I know that research suggests that most of us abandon our New Years resolutions before the February. I am often guilty of this – I’ve been pledging to stop biting my nails for over a decade now (getting better, but I haven’t stopped completely); last year I wanted to read some “classic” books, and I didn’t even read one. The trick for me has been not setting unrealistic resolutions, but setting up a To Do list. This year, I’ve filled my list with things I want to do, things I plan to do, and things I should do.
I’m going with the assumption that I will be employed all year and that these goals will at least be feasible.
1. Max out my Roth IRA.
I just need to decide whether I should do dollar-cost averaging or a lump sum. I did a lump sum contribution at the beginning of 2008. It’s all gone now. However, we could be in a trough right now & I’d be missing out on the bottom of the market. So we’ll see.
2. Save an additional $10,000.
I was able to save nearly double that amount last year, but this year I have the wedding and I’d like to do a little more travel than last year. This should be no problem if I work all year, and I might need to adjust that goal upward depending on how much I work.
3. Earn the full match on my 401K contributions.
Currently I have contributions at 20% of my salary (but I get the full match if I put in 8%). Depending on what I do the rest of the year (time off, volunteering for a layoff, etc), it might make more sense to cut back on 401K contributions & beef up cash savings, but I want to at least earn the full employer match.
4. Have directed savings sub-accounts.
I’ve been jealous of StackingPennies & how she has accounts set up for various events & travel plans, as well as her normal emergency fund. I’ve been just shoving everything into the same account, which was working OK since I didn’t have anything specific to plan for. In 2009, some of my miscellaneous goals are going to require money; directing money to those accounts ahead of time will allow me to spend the money later without guilt.
5. Have at least 6 no-spending-money-on-new-clothes/shoes/jewelry months.
This is going to be hard for me, but I think I can do it. You may also note my clever wording here – if family members give me gift cards to clothing stores, I can spend those freely without counting them toward a no-spend month. I’ll elaborate on this goal later, but I hope that by giving my personal spending account time to accrue and grow, I’ll be able to splurge on more expensive items rather than buying cheap things just to satisfy my shopping addiction.
6. Visit the tailor during my no-shopping months in order to transform some of my clothes to something I might wear more often.
I have several wrap dress that are just a tad too long (hitting just below the knee, which makes me look stumpy), and if I get them hemmed to just above the knee, I’ll be comfortable wearing them more often.
7. Switch over to paperless for all my bills.
I hate the way “going paperless” sounds, but I was thinking recently about my filing cabinet, overflowing with old utility bills. It will be much easier to pay those online, and I don’t know why I’ve procrastinated on doing this. If possible, I’m going to make Chad (who pays the cable and internet bills) switch as well.
Non-financial goals after the jump…
1. Try to update the blog at least twice a week.
I know, super difficult, right? I also want to expand the scope of the blog a tad. My “How to Build A Work Wardrobe for Under $500” is the most popular one so far, and hopefully it was helpful to the people who read it. One thing I feel is missing in the fashion blogosphere is a blog that focuses on mid-range retail clothes, things you can buy without crying over the price tag. Yes, they’re often late on trends and you’ll probably see loads of other people wearing your clothes, but I’m convinced that most of style is about how you put things together, not about how much you spend.
2. Have a weekly/monthly post on my blog with a specific theme.
I had a really good time writing the “How To Spend Your Clothing Budget” post, so perhaps I can make that a monthly post where I highlight decent deals, or adorable things I covet, or even the things I buy myself.
1. Finish grad school with a GPA above 3.6.
Since I only have 2 more classes to go, I should be done with this in May without too much effort. What will be more difficult will be not succumbing to whatever the grad school equivalent of senioritis is. Therefore, this goal has the following attached rules:
a. I have to watch lectures no more than three days after the class. This gives me through the end of the weekend to watch them.
b. I have to email the TA or the professor for each class at least once during the semester. I always have homework I can’t do; I hope setting up a goal will get me to actually ask for help rather than trying for hours to do it myself, giving up due to frustration, and then mentally berating myself for my stupidity.
1. Find a new job!
Since I’ll have my Masters degree by (hopefully) May, I hope to find a job by the end of the summer. I will have to decide if it will be before or after the wedding, but one thing is for sure: I can’ stay at my job much longer. I’m going to try to stick it out until I have a new job, but if there is another round of layoffs, I might even volunteer.
2. … but don’t suck so hard at my current one.
OK, so I hate my job and want to leave as soon as possible. That’s no reason to keep underperforming. My bosses gave me a new assignment that might help with the boredom; I’ll get my own (very, very small) program that I will be able to head up. I tend to really enjoy jobs where I am given complete control, and I’m hoping it will be good experience, at least.
1. Get my passport.
Chad and I have been arguing over what to do for our honeymoon. He wants to do something very traditional (e.g. the Caribbean), but I’d prefer to go to Europe since I haven’t done much traveling. I can’t insist on Paris or Athens unless I have a passport, though.
2. Travel locally.
Chad and I spoke briefly about moving back to the East Coast (to be closer to our families), and I panicked a little bit as I thought about all of the classic California things we just haven’t done yet. I started making up a list, and many can be accomplished in a weekend without incurring a huge cost. Some other things I’d like to do might be a bit more expensive, so I’m going to create a savings fund for that purpose. I’ll probably be making a post specifically on this later this month.
3. Tone my shoulders and arms.
I am at a weight that is comfortable to me, but my wedding gown is strapless. Sure, if I was striving for perfection, I’d like to lose 10 lbs. I’m at a weight that is easy to maintain, though, so I’m not going to stress about losing weight. Instead, I’d like to get tot the gym twice per week and get a better tone to my arms. It’s a small vanity.
4. Shop consciously.
I want to be careful about how I spend my money and what I spend it on. I’m the sort of person who wants to get everything done RIGHT NOW, and this results in me never thinking things through or planning. A good example is when I wanted to redecorate the apartment last year. It turned out OK, but we didn’t get the furniture reupholstered, and that might have made more of a difference in the way I feel about our decor than anything we actually managed to do.
As far as clothes go, I’d like to start getting an idea of my style aesthetic. I want to create inspiration boards of outfits, accessories, or colors I like so that I can start dressing the way I want. Sometimes I wear an outfit that just feels right, and sometimes I’ll be thisclose and just feel like something is missing. Hopefully I can get an idea of the kinds of clothes that make me feel good, and then I can buy more of those types of clothes. This is related to Financial Goal #5, where I will not buy things just because I have the urge to buy things or because I’m getting bored.