Friday, March 27, 2009

Goals Update

I have been very lax in updating my goals since the computer problems in February. I guess I got off my schedule. Even though I haven't written about my goals, I have been making progress on the goals as a group, but I need to focus on the details. Here goes:

Financial goals

Track spending with YNAB weekly. I'm still enjoying using YNAB to track spending. I got a little off track when my computer was cleaned, but I was able to use my bank statements to reconstruct Jan. and Feb.
Begin sinking fund account. Keep in checking account. This is working well. I've started small funds for taxes, car repairs, life insurance, and house projects. I'll be able to modify the amounts needed because of tracking what I actually spend.
Pay off $6000 in credit cards by July 1 . Not doing so well with this one. In order to achieve this goal, I need to pay $800/month to credit cards. February was good, but March was only $600 and April will only be $400 because of car repair. I will have to modify this goal to September 1.
Save emergency fund of $3600 by Dec 31. This goal will also be modified, probably to $2600.

Personal goals

Work out or walk (1 mile) 2x week. February and the 1st 2 weeks of March were successful, but the past 2 weeks have been exerciseless.
Walk Gretsky every day . Not everyday anymore. I need to renew my commitment to this.
Do Flylady routines. Nope
Bible study. Yes! I started attending a Bible study group in February. I also have been learning from Beth Moore online.
Learn something new. Yes! I may be going overboard a little here, but it's fun!
Compost bin/garden. I'm stuck on making a new compost container because I can't find my drill! Organization is lacking!
Monthly house project

Wow! I thought I was making adequate progress, but 6 out of 11 goals are in the red. It's time for me to refocus.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Target vs WalMart: Is there a lesser of the Superstore "Evils"?

This is a guest post by Shopping Ethically. Her blog has links to websites that feature Fair Trade and USA made merchandise.

I recently read an article, "Confessions of a Sweatshop Inspector," on Washington Monthly. In the article, T.A. Frank recounts his experiences as a sweatshop inspector and gives insight into just how difficult it is to have a REAL inspection of most Chinese factories since most inspections are announced so that factory managers have time to hide anything shady, change employee time cards, coach factory employees on how to answer inspectors' questions, etc....

The real highlight of the article for me, was an answer to a question that I have asked myself many times over the past year since I started my ethical shopping makeover: is Target any better than Wal-mart or are all superstores created ethically equal? According to Frank, one test for determining how "good" or "bad" a company's social responsibility is finding what percentage of the company's factory inspections are unannounced. Obviously, unannounced inspections are much more accurate in determining the actual conditions of a factory than previously scheduled visits.

His findings: Wal-mart: 26% of inspections unannounced
Target: 100% of inspections unannounced

By this criteria alone, Target seems to have the lead over Wal-mart in social responsibility.

My verdict: if you absolutely have to shop at one of these superstores--make it Target.
***But, you really can avoid shopping at any superstore if you're willing to tack on a few extra dollars (depending on what you're buying) per shopping trip to patronize local businesses. For me, the extra dollars are worth spending to help keep these local businesses running--I don't want to be in a position where my only choice for shopping is a superstore. I have avoided both stores since January, and I haven't had to go without anything--nor have I noticed any huge changes in my expenditures (except for the costs of house-building, but that's another story!).