Happy New Year! Are you ready to kill it all over again?? Stack them papers up high and get your coin vault ready to be jumped in a la Scrooge McDuck? I know I am, haha… Nothing motivates me more than starting *fresh* – even if it’s just all in my head ;)
Just like yesterday’s post on reviewing the past though, I should give you a quick update on how our new year’s resolutions went last year. And it’s pretty funny because it seems every year we get simpler and simpler in our goals! Here’s a quick snapshot of what I’m talking about:
- 2008: I had a total of 4 goals – Start using a budget (hah!), learn more about finances, learn more about web design, and lastly – read more. Of which it seemed I accomplished mostly all of them :)
- 2009: We had 12 goals?? 4 in the personal finance department, 3 in “life in general” (like “write more letters than emails” which I failed miserably at, haha…), and 5 having to do with blogging. Like hit 2,000 subscribers (we’re now around 7k) and interview a celebrity – which we did not do ;)
- 2010: I went back to 4 goals again – Max out 401(k) and Roth IRA, help the Mrs. max out her Roth too, reach a net worth of $200k, and then of course to manage my time better – which is always the hardest one :) But overall I believe we accomplished a good 90% of these which is fabulous.
- 2011: And then we went to one simple one – Work for myself for 12 months straight without applying to a job :) And we did it – yay!!! In fact, it’s now been over TWO YEARS since I went on my own (err, booted!), and I totally forgot to blot about it last month. Hmmm… I should do one about everything I’ve learned so far, eh? It’s certainly changed over the months, lots more pros and lots more cons than originally thought ;)
Which brings us back up to last year’s (2012’s) resolutions: Two goals only this time – Work 50% less but make 50% more ;) The dream! Haha… And while I haven’t run all the numbers quite yet, I’m gonna venture to say we hit about 25-35% in each area which I’ll take as a win considering we went into emergency mode once that baby came out, haha… All goals/plans/desires went out the window while we figured out how to just survive with our new lives we had (literally!) over the Summer. Which I’m happy to report we’re almost 100% back to “normal” again :) Well, as much as you possibly can anyways – those little rugrats are always keeping you on your toes!
So now that we’re all caught up with J. Money’s life over the past 5 years (I bet that’s just what you were hoping to read this morning, eh? ;)), let’s talk about what 2013 will hopefully look like. And in a word, it’s pretty simple: Simple. I like to say simple a lot :)
“The Year of The Simple”
I’ve tried working the system all kinds of different ways over the years, but the one thing that’s always stuck and worked the BEST throughout time was keeping things easy and in focus. No matter how big or complicated a goal of mine was. Whenever I got fancy or tried dipping my toes into a billion and one things at the same time I inevitably burn out or just plain ol’ don’t enjoy hitting the accomplishment in the end. So this year we’ll try doing none of that convoluted nonsense.
And randomly enough, I literally just heard on the radio that it’s better to focus on ONE thing early on rather than a handful as it increases your odds of not giving up ;) Which, according to this same person, will happen to 80% of us come January 21st – the date most people will have already thrown in the towel, haha… She also went on to say that if you can capture your goal with one simple word (no joke!), then it’ll help push you along even further. So I must REALLY be on track here! :)
I think it’s also important to KNOW YOURSELF WELL too, and not try and put your circle butts into those square goals. Not everyone in this world works the same way, so what moves one person along farther than the other could totally be different than if you or I tried working it the exact way.
Case in point: The snowball debt paying method vs. the higher interest debt paying method. Those emotional persons out there (like me) knock out goals MUCH faster when they feel better, over those that are statistically better in the end that save you more money. When we try to change and do “what’s best” according to others, we end up getting super frustrated or even worse – give yup. So paying attention to how you work vs. how everyone else is doing it could help you reach your goals a lot more quicker and efficiently too.
Here’s a few things I’ve done that fall along this rule of going with your own flow, and consequently making this “the year of the simple:”
- Keeping all accounts under one roof. Specifically with USAA – my all-time favorite financial institution. Five years ago I had accounts up the ying-yang and scattered all over the place. Causing me not only headaches in keeping track of everything, but also helping me to capture an overall snapshot of my finances. Now, after years of figuring out what works best with me, I’ve transferred as much as I can into one home base so I can easily log in and get an overall picture within seconds. As crazy as it may sound, I literally have over a dozen accounts at USAA now, and it’s been one of the best financial moves I’ve done in my life.
- Keeping all expenses on one main credit card. Again, over 4 others the wife and I used to split up thinking it would work out better. It did, for a while, but now that we only have the one to review and pay off every month (we never have a balance, and this is a simple way for us to budget on the go), the time and frustration spent has been minimal. If at all. One simple change we made that pays dividends going forward. (Literally! Our USAA card gives us cash back ;))
- Keeping all savings into one savings account. Instead of scattered across multiple accounts labeled for different things… The divided accounts DO work for a lot of people for a number of reasons (which I say keep going if you’re one of them!), but for us it only led to more unnecessary work. So we funneled everything into one, monster account, and so far it’s been great.
- Changing my mindset to needing less money, over making more. Something that only recently started playing a role in our lives, but has really helped narrow down the game plan more. Instead of focusing on making MORE money every year as time goes on (even though we still will to a degree), I realized that what would REALLY make us happy is needing less money to live on so we attain true financial freedom! The opposite of lifestyle inflation, really, and the one cure to nixing out stress and getting us farther away from the rat race.
We’ve been doing well following this route so far, and the plan is to continue doing so across 2013 no matter what we’re working on: finances, house stuff, baby stuff, and pretty much anything else that needs some good problem solving. I’ll also be getting back on the minimalism train and keeping my “stuff” more simple this year too – something I continually strive for but rarely make the effort.
So that’s my New Year’s resolution for the upcoming year – Continue keeping things simple, and condense, condense, condense! It won’t be as easy as it sounds, but in the end the results will be as sexy as a Playboy bunny on a budget – you can bet that ;) And a simple live = a happy life too.
What will you be concentrating on this year?
Photo by: Katie@!
Featured savings tip
You already know that banks pay $$$ for the privilege of holding your money…it’s called interest. But maybe you didn’t know this: that so-called interest can be as little as .01%. If your cash savings aren’t sitting in a high interest savings account that earns you at least 1%, you’re basically saying “no” to free $$$!
Now, obviously the 1% interest you get with a high interest savings account like the one at Discover bank won’t make you rich, but that extra 1% compounded over 30 years can grow into a *big* pile of cash. And if you wanna hit lofty $$$ goals, you should be looking for every edge possible.
Here’s another way to look at it: if you leave $50,000 in a regular savings account, that’s almost $500 you’re just throwing away, each and every year you don't setup a high yield savings account! Will you do 5-10 minutes of work right now to earn an extra $500/year for years to come?
If you said “heck yes”, then you can setup your high interest savings account here to start earning 1% on your cash savings.