Editor’s note: Please welcome The Money Principle’s new staff writer Alex. He used to write on accasional basis last year when he was trying to get a job. Now, he’s finally realised that it may be a better strategy to find work and create a ‘patchwork’ income. We would like to make him welcome and hope you enjoy his posts every Thursday.

The clock has gone full circle as we embark on a new year. January is not just the aftermath of our over-indulgence and festivities, it’s a time for some imagination and planning for the year to come.

Goals – Personal and Financial

Why do we have goals?

It might seem like a silly question but not everyone knows the ins and outs of their desires.

We work, we cook and we clean and look after our families, but not everyone gets time to themselves; to think deeply about what they truly want and how to cross that (financial) bridge.

Affordable hobbies are not always so easy to come by either. As children we’re told our goals are of utmost importance, yet we remain ignorant.

As adults we learn the hard way how perusable dreams are an uphill struggle.

Considering what you want for yourself alone can sometimes be a puzzling inner quest. Next year you may want to have or do things entirely different.

The key is to nail down what exactly it is you want to achieve, or simply what you most passionately want to do in your spare time.

In my experience, it can be a hard to pin down set goals, or at least it is not so straightforward.

I’d love to have children of my own, a little house in the country and so on. Yet, the more immediate future calls for different dreams, different goals.

My desires for 2014

I’ve never been someone to want lots of ‘stuff’; just peace of mind will do for me (they don’t sell those in shops, quite the opposite).

Travelling is something I loved to do when I was younger. A friend and I went trekking around Europe as teenagers over two summers back to back, and had the time of our spotty, giggling little lives.

This is now something I’d love to re-create in my life; the financial wherewithal to take an inspiring journey across the continent and tell the same bad jokes to new people in new places. Everyone I know here in the northwest of England has heard my puns.

So, if I’m to want some peace and joy for myself I should consider how much it costs. Everything after all is down to what you can afford.

I’ve found it costs something in the region of £250 for a Euro-rail train ticket that would allow me to visit up to five countries over two weeks. This isn’t too bad at all, though there are other costs.

Adding in a minimum of £500 for hospitality and food (£35+ per day), and allowing an extra £250 emergency money it equates to a round (and vague) figure of £1000.

For someone only working part-time and already in some debt a thousand pounds is a big wad of cash, so I have to ask myself how I can get to the point whereby I can afford to spend this amount on a two week period of sightseeing and basking in the sun. Is it feasible, and how do I make it so?

The answer is simple; I need to earn an extra £167 a month for the next six months (for a travelling vacation in 2014), or an extra £56 over the next eighteen months if I’m to steadily save up for a vacation for the summer of 2015.

The challenge is set, and will aim take this holiday in the coming summer. It is possible and this is now something I really want to achieve.

Are there any alternatives?

I’ve also looked at something like an all-day spa treatment as comparison, and as something that a sensitive soul like me would enjoy. The cheapest I’ve found starts at £50 for a day (that includes a three course meal). The high end of a spa-day treatment starts at £250 and ranges up to £500, which is a similar cost to a fortnight’s travel.

And that for only a single day’s relaxation (although getting so pampered is tempting).

The crunch then is:

How much do I really get out of this ‘full day’ spa treatment as compared to how much I’d enjoy sitting outside a coffee shop in Prague, or lying back on a beach in the south of France?

It’s obvious that a single day getting away from the madness of the world is no substitute for a holiday, even if there are risks travelling abroad.

There are more adrenalin fuelled alternatives like Go-Karting. I’m not competitive by nature but I’d imagine it to be fun and invigorating. Then again averaging £35 for less than an hour racing, the standard price makes it an expensive hobby.

There are many other sporty activities to take up, but these are not hobbies that inspire me enough to spend my money. I’d much rather see new places and people, and not have to compete for my enjoyment.

Final thoughts…

Whatever your quest, whatever your desire, a good way to reach your goals is to set them on a month by month basis. The Money Principle Budgeting Tool helps me keep my day to day cash flow at a steady pace and is a good way to spend less.

It is then up to me to find ways to bulk up the bank balance and save up for long awaited and greatly desired trip abroad.

Aside from saving, writing is my best weapon and I’ll be looking to nail down some free-lancing gigs in the months to come. I also will write more scripts that I hope to be broadcast on radio or television one day. If I can average £150 a month on top of what I currently live on then the shores of Europe will welcome me in tie-dye t-shirts and ill-fitting sandals. It’s a goal worth working for.

Tell me your desires for the future. Do you have any special plans to achieve set goals? Do you have any unique hobbies that you budget for? Comment below!

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc