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The Year of The Simple

by J. Money on Tuesday, January 1, 2013

live simple

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:”

  1. 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.
  2. 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 ;))
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

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Photo by: Katie@!


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 maria@moneyprinciple January 1, 2013 at 8:18 am

Last year I found Chris G’s ‘words for the year’ approach; and did it. My words were ‘reach and influence’ and 2012 went well. For 2013 my words are ‘health and wealth’ – this will have to include simple(er) living though becoming a minimalist (which I would love to do) is a very distant prospect.
Have you seen ‘the only personal finance graph you will ever need’? It is a beaury – the difference between ‘income’ and ‘spend’ should be increasing; how it is done is a triviality albeit an important one.

Happy New Year, J$ and may all you wish for be achieved.

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2 Pauline January 1, 2013 at 11:20 am

Happy New Year! This year I am focusing on building wealth and growing my net worth by 30%!

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3 Lance @ Money Life and More January 1, 2013 at 11:39 am

Hmm I have a couple ideas for this year but they’re going to be tough. Be healthier has always been hard but I need to do it. The other goals would have to do with my blog :) Growth!

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4 Budget & the Beach January 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I like that idea a lot. I’ve been thinking about my own goals and what fits best into MY life, not someone’s else’s version of goals. I too want to keep things simple and focused. Good luck in 2013!

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5 Joe @ Retire By 40 January 1, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Happy New Year! We’re trying to simplify and consolidate in 2013 too. 2012 was a crazy year for us and I need to relax and enjoy life a bit in 2013. Have a great year!

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6 Revanche January 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Happy New Year!! What a crazy 2012, huh? All best wishes for a fantastic upcoming year.

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7 K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! January 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm

We have a few goals that we’re working on for 2013 but the main two are saving $25K towards a house downpayment and making an additional $20K in combined income. We also are striving to live on less than 50% of our after tax income now that we’re debt free. Happy New Year :)

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8 Tony@YouOnlyDoThisOnce January 1, 2013 at 5:05 pm

2012 was the first year since 1992 that I did not use a credit card FOR ANYTHING. I am going to continue that trend (can’t stop now!).

Other goals:

-Quit my job in June (the blog will cover that!)
-Pay off all debt except the mortgage (also will happen in June)
-write 2 books….woah!

Loving your blog!

T

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9 Jeremy Jameson January 1, 2013 at 6:20 pm

I applaud your decision to seek simplicity in your financial dealings; it can be advantageous in that there is less to track and therefore fewer chances to get confused. My own goals for 2013 (relating to my blog) focus on developing its readership and income prospects in small (by well-established bloggers’ standards) but meaningful ways. To read more specifically about these goals, please consider visiting my blog and becoming a subscriber there. Happy New Year! :)

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10 NoTrustFund January 1, 2013 at 8:04 pm

This year is all about paying down our mortgage. It is highly unlikely we’ll pay it off this year but hopefully we can make some good progress!

Happy New Year!

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11 Connor Harley January 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Your goals are getting more simple but better. I guess in the past we always want so much but then we only really need a few. Happy about your goals. It’s probably everyone’s dream to work less and get paid more. HAHA!

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12 StackingCash January 2, 2013 at 12:44 am

I must vehemently disagree with “needing less money, over making more.” There is only so much that you can cut out of life, to the point of living miserably. Always make more and just be efficient when it comes to needing less. After all you do have a huge mortgage to squash and the only way to do that is MAKE MORE MONEY! :)

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13 shey January 2, 2013 at 1:11 am

great goals!!! mine are pretty simple.

1. maintain a 3.5 and continue with school
2. Get an internship
3. Travel to a new country this year

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14 Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey January 2, 2013 at 9:22 am

I am also dreaming of working less but earning more. I hope it will turn into reality this year. My other goals for this year include two new blogs on food and travel, new business, and 30% increase on earnings. May we have a more prosperous 2013!

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15 Alyssa January 2, 2013 at 10:37 am

KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid! lol

Simplicity is the way to go. It’s easier to function and you can focus on the things that are important. I try to keep my finances fairly simple. However, I have noticed that the most effective way to keep me saving is to have several targeted savings accounts. I keep them all under 1 online bank, so it doesn’t *feel* like separate accounts. But having specific accounts really gives me something to focus on, particularly now that I’m saving for a wedding :)

Your goals sound great. I’m still solidifying mine. I’ve got ambitions, but need to write them down and be more specific so I know I’ll attain them :)

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16 J. Money January 2, 2013 at 11:31 am

Thanks for sharing all your own goals with us :) It helps motivate me to keep going and consider other ideas too! Happy new year everyone!!

@maria@moneyprinciple – Cool! I guess that “word” idea is a pretty popular one then, eh? I like your health and wealth one, haha… that’s great :) Here’s to you rockin’ it as well this year!
@Pauline – I like it! You and Maria up there should hang out ;)
@Lance @ Money Life and More – I feel like I need to be working out more (and eating better) as well, but one thing at a time, haha… I do play a lot of sports when it’s nice out, so at least that’s something?
@Budget & the Beach – You too, friend!
@Joe @ Retire By 40 – That’s very important – stopping to soak things in and *enjoy* it. We’re always so rush-rush-rush here in the States, and it would be nice to figure out how to slooooow things down a bit more :) I’m going to try and give myself 1 hour a day of doing “whatever *I* want” and see if that does the trick. I feel like it would.
@Revanche – You too, friend! I’m SO GLAD we’re still connected after all these years of blogging :) Maybe we’ll be able to hang out in person again sometime?!
@K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! – AWESOME!!! Accomplishing any of those would be sexy, actually – make sure to check back in next year at this time so I can congratulate you on everything :)
@Tony@YouOnlyDoThisOnce – Cool!!! I love your motivation my man! What an excellent game plan over there – I’m proud of you! Even though I don’t know you well yet! :)
@Jeremy Jameson – I like that ;) And also that you’re trying to grow your site and make some cash a “meaningful way” – that’s important. And I struggled a lot with that early on with this site and made money the crappier ways. Even now I hate that there are ads on this site that I’d rather be gone, but until I figure out better ways too, it is what it is… Especially if I want to keep this site going on and on! :)
@NoTrustFund – Great one! I’ve started doing the same a year and a half ago, and now I only have 8.5 years instead of 10 to hit my pay-off goal :) Probably not as sexy as yours if you’re getting closer, but we all gotta start somewhere right?
@Connor Harley – Haha, yup! But hardly anyone ever DOES ANYTHING about it ;) The key to being successful in any area, really. It’s like wanting to win the lottery but never playing!
@StackingCash – Haha… Well “needing less” is tied completely with “no more mortgage,” so as soon as that is gone then I’ll be well on my way to not needing as much income anymore! *If* I want to simplifly a lot more by that point… We all know I’ll be hustling either way, but knowing you only need $XX amt every month to survive is motivating for me. You can the work on the stuff you love more even if it doesn’t pay as nice :)
@shey – Excellent goals! And all three of those will help you immensely in the future too, esp the traveling abroad. People rarely think about the impact that makes on both your mental health and “edge” it gives you in future conversations (even with job stuff – world travelers seem “smarter” to people cuz it means you’re soaking up other cultures!) so I think that’s great. As well as the internship and high gpa :)
@Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey – Wow, you’re gonna be a hustler! I hope they all go well!
@Alyssa – You’ll figure it out in no time :) And the writing it down part will be helpful too, even if just to look back every now and it to check-in with yourself. You can do it, friend!

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17 Stephanie January 2, 2013 at 11:43 am

I am definitely with you on the needing less goal! I’m actually not quite sure where our take-home pay will end up for 2013 because there are so many variables still: I will get small raises at both jobs, but our insurance contributions will increase, as will payroll taxes… But my husband has a new job that resulted in a pretty big pay increase (but also higher commuting costs, which cut into a bit of that increase) and gets his first raise mid-February. Add a new baby to the mix around early February, which could cost us a lot or a little (if we can follow through on cloth diapering and breastfeeding, we will save a LOT of money over the first couple of years!), and all I can do at the moment is guess at what our budget will be and hope for the best.

Definitely counting our blessings that we have wiggle room in our budget to deal with most of those unknowns, but I’d still love to pare things down, both in terms of expenses and material possessions.

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18 Cat January 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I think simplicity is a great a great idea! Sometimes having too many goals can be so confusing and frustrating.

I am focusing on my running goals. Last year I did 4 5k’s as my goal and completed it, this year instead of ramping it up a lot, I’m just going to shoot for the same goal plus a LITTLE extra. 4 5k’s and one 10k.

We’ll see how it goes but hopefully less to focus on will make it easier to achieve.

And of course, I have various financial goals but I look at them all together in a lump sum, trying to pay off as much as possible, without putting a number on it to eliminate the stress.

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19 J. Money January 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm

@Stephanie – Oh wow, lots of crazy variables there – but at least you’re *aware* of them all, and can thus keep your goals/budget realistic! And over time it’ll all pan out more and give you a clearer picture of what to expect, where you can then adjust and keep moving the ball forward :) And we save a TON breastfeeding too, it’s great – and REALLY good for the baby too. We’re not so good w/ cloth diaper stuff though, haha…

@Cat – I like it :) And that 10k would be DOPE if you could pull it off! If you keep adding another every year you’ll be crazy fit!

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20 Bryan January 5, 2013 at 12:22 am

Happy new year. My concentrations this year will be to learn a new language (still deciding on what that language will be, lol) and to find other ways to invest my money rather than just stocks, which is what i have right now.,There is just so many ways to make money out there, its dizzying. There is real estate, precious metals, blogging, domain name flipping, pet sitting, etc. etc. it will be interesting to see what i get into this year.

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21 Leslie January 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Simple, easy, consdensed…great goal. I like you have had a crazy number of new years resolutions in the past and in the end, I am someone who always has goals and projects on the go regardless of the calander changing or not. One thing I have been seriously lacking is fun. I have spent too many years with tunnel vision and although I am not giving up on my projects, I am making a deliberate effort to infuse fun into my life. I will probably feel a lot better too…as they say, laughter is the best medicine. Wishing you a great 2013.

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22 J. Money January 8, 2013 at 10:23 am

@Bryan – Haha yup! Tons of crazy good (and risky!) investments for that money :) Just gotta find the one (or two/three) that you’re most comfortable with and then pour it all in!

@Leslie – EXCELLENT idea! Especially for all those workaholics out there like us. Thank you for the reminder :)

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23 Evan January 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Good luck with the goals J!

I think one of the “cool” things about blogging is that you can look back on goals and objectives to see if you failed. Although I always feel like an idiot when I fail miserably at a goal lol.

If I had to give a theme to my goals it would be to get some type of routine! 2012 was filled with housing stuff and I am just pumped that is about to be all over

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24 J. Money January 14, 2013 at 10:17 am

Haha, I hear that brotha… and with blogging everyone KNOWS about those failures too! Haha.. luckily though they also hear about the Wins so I guess it breaks even :) That’s the beauty of blogging though – it shows we’re real people!!

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