First, take note that my husband and I are 23 and 21, respectively, so we have quite a bit of life ahead of us. Also, with that much life ahead of us, our future is very fluid-- compounded by the facts that (1) he's still in school, (2) I still haven't had my first 'real' job, (3) he's a minister, which means we don't have a lot of say about where we'll end up or for how long even after he finishes school.
With all of this uncertainty, it is difficult to make plans and goals. However, there are certain things we each want out of life, so we make goals based on what we can do now to make sure those things happen.
One goal that we have is to be financially secure. This means many different things to many different people. What it means to us is that we have an emergency fund in place (3-8 mo.) and are free from debt as much as possible, including paying of our home (when we buy one) as soon as we can, so that our expenses are minimal compared to our income. That way, no matter what happens, we have a roof over our heads. This is currently a work-in-progress, as our income is just now starting to equal even our minimum expenses. Still, we expect the debt-free portion to be accomplished in the next few months. I see this goal as a goal everyone should have.
Another goal is to save up for a down-payment on a house. At least 20%. The specific amount we do not know, since house prices vary widely from state to state. We would like $20-40k. Our strategy for this is to rely on one source of income for our regular expenses and save the other income in its entirety.
I will be a stay at home mom. This is a very, very important issue for me. I do not want someone else to raise my kids. I do not mind doing home-based businesses, but I do not have plans to work full time after we start having kids. Financially this means that we need to be taking full advantage of the second income while we still have it (maybe two more years). Putting 100% of my income toward savings and retirement then becomes a two-fold benefit-- achieving the goal faster and keeping us used to relying on only one income for daily needs.
We want to comfortably retire. I've touched on this in a previous post entitled "How to determine how much money you need to retire". To me this is also a part of being financially secure. I do not mind living on so much less than I may make so that we can reach our retirement goals sooner. The sooner we can live indefinitely on $0 income, the more comfortable I will be!
Even when life seems completely unpredictable, it is important to have long-term goals. Of course, we have short-term and mid-term goals as well.
What about you? Do you have your long-term goals in place, and are you actually working toward them rather than wishing for them? Is there a gaping hole in my list of goals?