Archive for the ‘Goals’ Category

July Wrap-Up
August 1, 2012

I’ve never been so glad for a month to be over!  Long work hours made this a very stressful month, but my body is almost back on a normal sleep schedule and my wallet is much happier due to the insane amount of overtime I earned.  We spent a chunk of our savings on a new car, so that has me scrambling to figure out what will happen to our house down payment and travel fund. (For all my talk about being a planner, I did a terrible job of remembering that our 2nd car was only a loaner and if D had to drive any distance to work, we’d need a new one.)

August isn’t shaping up to be much better since I’ve got 2 parties to plan for my sister’s wedding (shower + bachelorette).  D & I are going on our first couple-y vacation since our honeymoon, though, and even if it’s just a long weekend, I’m going to enjoy every minute of it!

1. Work out 4 days per week. Done!
I don’t even know what to say about this any more, but since this is the only goal I consistently meet, I refuse to say anything bad about it.

2. Read 8 books. Fail.
So close!  I read 7, and was most of the way through #8 but opted to watch the Olympics instead.  Four of the books were simplistic YA books, though, so I can’t brag too much.  Never take book recommendations from your 11-year-old cousin.  You will probably get sucked in and then you will be ashamed and you will also want to tell her why love triangles are terrible.

3. Figure out all of the financial stuff that has changed. Mostly!
We’re not outside the Roth limits (yay!), but our tax bill will be ridiculous.  I’ve upped my withholdings, so hopefully we’ll get close to the right amount for 2012.   We renewed our lease at our current apartment complex, mostly because there wasn’t enough time to do anything else.  We spent way too much money on our car, but we’ll be able to replenish our savings by early next year so we can start looking to make an even bigger purchase – a new house.

4. Post at least 2x per week. So much fail.
I honestly was thinking we’d spend our time picking out a car and looking for 0% financing and looking up negotiation techniques.  Instead, we bought a car after swearing we wouldn’t and didn’t have to do any of the research I thought we’d have to do.  So, good for stress levels, bad for blog content.  You will all have to be content with my 3x per month schedule (sorry).

5. Plan my sister’s bridal shower. Mostly!
The party is coming up in August, and I AM GOING INSANE.  We decided to DIY some major parts of it, and it was just a stressful choice.  I’m planning on taking a day off work to get everything done.  It will end up being the cheaper option, but the time tradeoff is not feeling worth it right now.

6. Use massage groupon. Fail.
I didn’t even try, but mostly because I want to use it after the shower.  No point in getting the massage and then hurting my back from sitting hunched over DIY table runners for hours.

7. Go to the farmer’s market. Fail.
I totally forgot about this goal, but we haven’t had a non-working weekend at home all month.  I worked the first 2 weekends, we were out of town on the 3rd, and D had to work last weekend.  We’re just lucky there’s food other than condiments in our fridge!

8. Bake at least one recipe I’ve pinned on Pinterest. Fail.
But!  I’m using several images as inspiration, including fruit kebabs, which are kind of like baking except without all of the ingredients and using a stove and stuff.  I’ll definitely be getting my bake on before the shower, though.  Wah.

9. Go hiking at least once. Fail.
I was tempted to give us a “Kinda?” on this goal.  We did go for walks several times per week, and I’ve mentioned the no-weekends thing.  Still, this is technically a fail, and there’s no shame in failing at really easy things on the internet.


To Accomplish, July 2012
July 6, 2012

I haven’t had a day off in almost two weeks, so I was guarding the fourth of July as my day to wear pajamas and make poor food choices. Instead, we made a long road trip to my sister’s new apartment for a barbecue.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to find the motivation to “give up” my days off since I then feel like I need another day to recover. I have to remember when I skip parties, I’m missing out on more than eating a pint of ice cream in my sweat pants.

Do you ever have trouble finding the motivation to be social? What did you do for the 4th (even if it wasn’t a holiday for you)?

To Accomplish, July 2012

1. Work out 4 days per week.
I’m participating in a 10,000 steps per day challenge, just to change things up!

2. Read 8 books.
There’s got to be at least 1 goal that I will definitely fail!

3. Figure out all of the financial stuff that has changed.
Some of this is pretty basic. I’d like to figure out how D and I should handle taxes (I’m sure we’ll be jumping brackets); I need to confirm we’re not going to be phased out of our Roth IRAs (hopefully not), and just in general, we need to figure out what our monthly budget is going to look like.

Then there are the other, bigger questions. D’s commute is too long, so we probably want to move. But to where? And should we buy or rent? We also legitimately need a new car (post on this coming soon). We’re also thinking of doing some traveling soon, but how much can we afford (especially given house+car thoughts)?

4. Post at least 2x per week.
I’ve justified my absence from this blog by saying that there was nothing going on for us, financially. Even otherwise, we didn’t do much traveling or spending or eating out, mostly because I was worrying about money. I’d loosened up this year, but that only made me want to post less – I should not admit to buying $100 Kate Spade necklaces on the internet!

Now, though, there are no excuses!

5. Plan my sister’s bridal shower.
Since I’m the only bridesmaid who is nearby and had financial means, the planning of the bridal shower has fallen to me. I’m getting to deal with the bitchy bridesmaids, the bridesmaid who emails and says she has no money, and my mom, who is extremely opinionated about what these things should look like. Yay!

6. Use massage groupon.
If I can get an appointment. I may also push this off until August, because I get the feeling I’ll need some stress relief after finishing the above party planning.

7. Go to the farmer’s market.
I’ve been bugging D about this one for a while, but for some reason, waking up early enough on the weekends is too hard and putting on real clothes is even harder. With my work schedule, we probably won’t get to this one until the end of the month, but I’m committed to making it happen!

8. Bake at least one recipe I’ve pinned on Pinterest.
I’ve determined that Pinterest is just where I put aspirational things (elaborate cakes, DIY projects, and clothes) that I will never use. A friend and I were joking about it, and she said we should have a monthly Pinterest baking thing, where we pick one recipe and each bake it. I love it as a way to keep in touch (she just moved to Seattle, so I think she’s trying to maintain her connection to here), and I’m willing to endure baking for that!

9. Go hiking at least once.
D and I booked our annivarsary getaway – we’ll be going to Shenandoah and hiking Old Rag, which someone said is one of the best hikes on the East Coast. D and I are good hikers, but we’ve been slacking lately. Hopefully we can get in at least one hike, and a few longer walks before we go!

May & June Wrap Up
July 3, 2012

So, the past few months have mostly involved waiting to see if Chad found a job.  Everything hinged on it – would we stay in DC, would we buy a house, would the numbers in our budget finally be exciting again?  Luckily, a few weeks ago he got an offer and just started work on Monday!

All of this is completely unrelated to the actual topic of this post, which is just to review my performance on goals.  You will note that I haven’t posted about goals in 2 months (worst blogger ever?), but I always set goals, even if they don’t make it to the blog.  In the hopes of slowly easing myself back into the blogging habit, here is a review of how I did.  July goals will hopefully follow soon.

May Goals – how I did

1. Work out 4 times per week. Done.

2. Read 8 books. Fail.
I’m STILL slacking on my 100 books challenge – I got through 5 in May. I confess, I just haven’t made reading a priority this year. Part of it is work stuff, part of it is other interests crowding it out, and part of it is just sheer laziness.

3. Buy Mother’s Day presents. Done!
I can’t really take credit for this one. We got my mom a fancy tea set that she wanted, but my little sister went above and beyond and had a hot dinner prepared for them when they returned home from a sailing trip that weekend. She even made them a pie! I am not the best daughter.

4. Cook using two ingredients I’ve never used before. Done!
I roasted an artichoke for the first time, and discovered: I don’t really like artichoke! Still love the hearts, though.
The second ingredient was quinoa, but I cooked it in the most boring way possible since I’d never had it before and wanted to get a feel for the flavor & texture. The box has sat in our pantry ever since, but I’ve got plans. Oh yes. (Thanks to MPP for the recipe link via Pinterest!)

5. Book travel to California. Done!
We ended up spending a little over $900 on our plan tickets out there, and some ridiculous amount on food and drinks once we got there. We also managed to see the Titanic exhibit, which was neat but probably not worth the $25 each it cost to get in.

6. Take advantage of overtime. Done!
OT has been a no go for most of the year (we’re a government contractor, so I actually think this is a good thing!). I ended up having to charge way more extra time than I’d expected. Turns out, when you’re offsite supporting other activities for a week, you have a ton of crap to do when you get back. July will also require massive amounts of overtime, and you know what? I think I’m going to be so sick of work by the time it’s done.

7. Use massage Groupon. Fail.
I never got around to scheduling it. I still have time (until February of next year), but I could definitely see myself putting it off until I have to scramble to get one of the last appointments!

June Goals – how I did

1. Work out 4 times per week. Done.

2. Read 8 books. Fail.
I made it through 6. Lame.

3. Help D prepare for interviews. Done!
One of D’s interviews involved a half-hour technical presentation and individual interviews with 4 other people. And then he didn’t get the job because of something that they could have known just by reading his resume! Luckily, though, I think all of the work we did helped him on the other interviews he had. He ended up getting an offer, as I’ve already shared.

4. Enjoy California. Done!
This was partly because D received and signed the job offer just before we left, so we were a bit freer with our spending than we might have been otherwise. While more money spent doesn’t alway correlate to more fun, it definitely helped that we didn’t even really have to think about it.

5. Bake something and bring it into work. Fail.
I did bake – mini blackberry pies (I deep-fried some of them, and they were magical), but there weren’t enough to share. (I said as I stuffed fried pie and ice cream into my face.)

How are you doing on your goals?

To Accomplish, May 2012
May 1, 2012

I’ll echo the sentiment I’ve been reading all over the web – can’t believe it’s already May! D.C. has has been having unseasonably warm weather since March, so I’m not sure why the passage of time is such a shock. Still, there are a lot of things that I thought I had more time to take care of, but now the time is almost here.

Also, good thing I didn’t make any blogging-related goals this year. I’d be 5 months into failing them by now.

To Accomplish, May 2012

1. Work out 4 times per week.
So… I’ve lost 10 pounds since the beginning of the year, mostly because D has been dieting. I tend to eat the same foods that he does, in the same quantities, so when he cut back, so did I. This is cool, because I am a girl and thus have unrealistic desires for my body weight. However, my working out has tapered off a bit since we went to Miami. I’m still technically meeting my four-days-per-week, but sometimes I count standalone yoga or Pilates as a workout. I’ve almost given up on running altogether, which is Very Bad. For May, my hope is to get back on the wagon and kick some butt again.

(Also? It’s sort of annoying that I lost weight now, because I sold off all of my smaller-size clothes just last year. Not cool, body.)

2. Read 8 books.
I’m slacking on my 100 books challenge – in April I only got through 4! Hopefully I’ll catch up over the summer when our schedule normalizes again.

3. Buy Mother’s Day presents.
This is one of those things I always leave until the last minute… thank goodness you can just pick a florist 2 days before!

4. Cook using two ingredients I’ve never used before.
I tried brussel sprouts for the first time a week ago (roasted in olive oil) after years of avoiding them because of the negative things I always heard. Guess what? They were awesome! This has inspired me to look for new foods (I’m mostly thinking produce) that I haven’t cooked with before, either because I’m not familiar with them or because I have no idea how to cook them. Hopefully these will be a pleasant surprise as well.

5. Book travel to California.
My big sister is getting a PhD this summer (thus beating me forever in the scholarly competition we’ve had since elementary school), so we’re flying out to California to see it.  Unfortunately, flight prices are higher than I’ve ever seen them, and I used to live in California and flew home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the busiest travel times of the year. Good thing I budgeted $2000 for this trip – we’ll definitely need it!

6. Take advantage of overtime.
My bosses have cut way back on authorized OT this year, which has been a bit of a blessing, really. Still, I have an opportunity to earn a little extra, and I fully intend to take advantage.

7. Use massage Groupon.
I’m thinking some time after I get my overtime, since I’ll probably need the stress relief.  Worth it.

March 2012 Wrap-Up
April 5, 2012

Did March feel incredibly long to anyone else?  Even though I was on vacation and traveling (which usually makes me feel as though time is flying by too quickly), last month seemed to drag.  It was also an incredibly spendy month – my shopping ban ended, so I bought some new workout clothes (I get really exciting about moisture-wicking clothes, apparently), my best friend moved away, so we spent a lot of dinner out and buying drinks, and all of the travel expenses very nearly blew our budget.  Luckily, it was a 3-paycheck month, and I also got a decent raise at work, which offset our gluttonous spending.

So from a money standpoint, everything is cool, but how did I do on my goals?

1. Work out 4 days per week. Done!
The most impressive thing about this is that I actually managed to exercise while we were on vacation, although I think the credit goes to D for this one.

2. Read 8 books and review. Fail.
I got through 6, and 5 if I don’t count the copy of The Richest Man in Babylon from our work library, which inexplicably turned out to be a British book about tRMiB instead of the story itself. I don’t know how that even happens at an American company, but there you go.

3. No bread or refined sugar for 1 week. Kinda?
This was really hard.  I actually have a terrible sweet tooth and crave sugar all. the. time.  Have you ever eaten something and felt sick afterward because it was TOO sweet?  I have never felt that way ever. My downfall was making cake balls for my friend’s going away party – I “taste tested” (read: justified eating) one, and I ate one from stress the next day.  I also ate one peanut M&M, which sounds like a crazy thing to even remember or care about, but I took it from a coworker’s candy jar sort of mindlessly as we were chatting, and I think that was the worst violation of all.  After all, willpower is one thing (and willpower against cake balls isn’t even a real thing), but mindlessly eating candy is a habit I should not have.

Bread, surprisingly, was not that hard to give up (I made lettuce wraps or salads out of sandwich items), but I definitely gorged on French toast after it was all over!

4. File taxes. Done!
We shoved everything into TurboTax and let it go.  We ended up with a huge refund due to my poor planning and not changing my withholdings after D left his job last year.  I won’t pretend the money isn’t a nice surprise, but still feel sort of silly for letting it be so huge.

5. Apply at the animal shelter. Fail.
I have no excuses, other than being a terrible person.

To Accomplish, March 2012
March 8, 2012

I can tell March is going to be a great month!  I get 3 paychecks, we’re going on vacation, and I have a sorority reunion coming up as well.  Sadly, my best friend is also moving away this month, so I’m also going to try to pack my schedule with time with her.

Mostly standard goals this month, but I’ve also got to do my

To Accomplish, March 2012

1. Work out 4 days per week.
Keeping up my vanity 5x per week workout until we head to Miami!

2. Read 8 books and review.

3. No bread or refined sugar for 1 week.
This is going to be hard – I love my pasta and bread.  I also love sugar, which is why the second half of this goal is so key.  My plan is to implement this the week before we leave for vacation, just so I can completely undo it while we’re on vacation.

In all seriousness, I hear such great things from people who give up sugar, and I really think I eat sweets at work without even thinking about it.  I will allow myself a small amount of dark chocolate a few times, but nothing else!

4. File taxes.
This is going to be a hard one – we don’t even have some of our forms yet!  Also, D’s system of filing new mail is to throw it all in a bin so we can look at it later… Want to guess how well that worked?

5. Apply at the animal shelter.
This is a repeat from last month, and I’d really like to get it done, no matter how busy this month ends up being!

February Wrap-Up
March 3, 2012

This felt like a very full, exciting month.  One of my friends is moving away, so I’ve been trying to spend more time with her, either by going out for girls’ nights, or just by going to the gym together a few times a week.  D and I also planned two vacations, and I’m finding that planning vacations is almost as fun as actually going.  I’m spending my personal budget on more random stuff, like drinks at the bar and massage Groupons. My wear-everything challenging is still (!) going on, but I’m down to the dregs of my closet, down to the stuff that doesn’t fit quite right or that just doesn’t align with my style.  It’s hard to believe that my closet cleanout last year didn’t fix that, but there you go.

Goal-wise, this was a decent month! I didn’t achieve one of what I thought was my more important goals, but I got a great bonus at work and checked a lot of languishing items off my To Do list.

1. Work out 4 days per week. Done!
I’m averaging slightly higher than this (2 weeks until bikini!) due to our trip to Miami + a sorority reunion we have planned for March. Who knew vanity was such a motivator?

2. Read 8 books and review. Done!

3. Send in last 2011 FSA form. Done!
I actually had to do this one twice since the first set was rejected, so yay for failing at paperwork!

4. Sign up for a yoga class. Done!
Classes started on Monday, and it’s nice to practice with a new teacher! I might have to have her look up what “vinyasa” means, but I’m hoping that was just because it was the first class and she decided to take it easy on us.

5. Food goal: cook only from scratch for one week. Maybe?
Probably should have put a spoiler alert on my last post.  Actually, we might have made this, depending on how creatively I define “from scratch.”  I liked seeing all of the comments on my last post about how people define cooking from scratch, because I had such an all-or-nothing mindset.

6. Apply to be a volunteer at the animal shelter. Fail.
And I have no excuse. It’s written on my whiteboard at work, it’s in my notebook, it’s on the blog. I just didn’t get it done. Definitely on my list for next month!

How did you do this month?

Setting Stupid Goals
February 24, 2012

So, I set a goal for this month to cook everything from scratch for one week.  This has turned out to be really stupid goal.

It sounded OK when I wrote it down.  Yeah, just don’t eat chicken fingers or canned soups! Easy!

Then I start planning and I realized that we use a lot of convenience food, as well as the fact that I didn’t define the boundaries of “cooking from scratch” very well.

Do crackers count?  Who makes crackers from scratch?  What about cereal? Can we buy pre-sliced steak strips for our burritos, or do we have to buy actual steaks and cut them down (this is not hard, by the way)?  And what about chicken stock, or pasta, or hot chocolate with marshmallows? Can we not go out to eat at all?

Every time I had to question whether or not I could use pre-chopped nuts in homemade granola or if I could drink a beer with dinner, I wanted the answer to be, “this is OK.” My having an opinion, however, meant that the answer was suspect.  Of course it’s OK, because otherwise I have to try again tomorrow!

This is actually why I do very well with money and with engineering.  Numbers don’t lie, and they’re rarely vague.  If I spend $100 on a trip, that’s $100 that doesn’t go to savings.  Steel is stronger than bubblegum.


Of course, as Stacking Pennies noted earlier this year, you really should set goals you care about.  Maybe that was my problem all along.

To Accomplish, February 2012
February 10, 2012

1. Work out 4 days per week.
We’re going to Miami for Spring Break next month, so I might even bump this up to 5.

2. Read 8 books and review.

3. Send in last 2011 FSA form.
These forms are due by April, so there’s no rush, but I really should get tehm turned in since the expenses are from last summer. Oh, procrastination.

4. Sign up for a yoga class.
The classes offered by my neighborhood are only $5 each for a course of 8 (so $40 total), so I’m going to jump in an sign up for the next series, which starts at the end of the month.

5. Food goal: cook only from scratch for one week.
The only things that we don’t have to make ourselves is stuff like bread, tortillas, etc. We can also buy pre-cut chicken breasts and lunch meat. Really, the goal here is to not eat preprocessed foods like chicken fingers or canned soups or the millions of other horrifying things we put in our bodies each day.

6. Apply to be a volunteer at the animal shelter.

January In Review
February 4, 2012

Considering I only posted some of these a week ago and that I really didn’t set any difficult goals, perhaps it’s unsurprising that this has been one of my most successful months in a while.  Or I’m just extra-motivated since it’s still early in the year.

1. Reset 401K contributions and W4 withdrawals for 2012. Partial credit?
I ended up missing out on getting this done before my first paycheck, so I’ll probably end up needing to adjust these again this year.

2. Work out 4 days per week. Done!

3. Read 10 books & write a quick summary/review. Done!
I made it through 10!  I bought myself a cute notebook, and have done pretty well at jotting down some notes on each book.  Hoping I can keep it up all year!

4. Eat vegetarian for 1 week. Done!
We did 8 days, actually, with no cereal dinners in sight!  Lots of beans and pasta. D was pleasantly surprised by the awesomeness of MorningStar’s black bean burgers (too bad they are more expensive than hamburger!).  I am in love with Trader Joe’s black bean soup.  Other recipes we ate include the following: Moo Shu vegetables (good, but salty – definitely cut back on the soy sauce!) and these fried zucchini cakes, which just proves that anything is delicious when it’s deep-fried in oil.

5. Post my 2012 resolutions/goals on the blog. Done!
Sure, it was the last day of the month, but that’s good enough for me!

6. Research volunteer opportunities nearby. Done!
This amounts to basically having done a google search.  There is an animal shelter nearby that seems promising, and hopefully I can schedule volunteer hours for one of the nights D has class.