Category Archives: 2016 Goals

Fresh Start – It’s Gonna Be May!

Empty Desk Calendar - Green

We may not have gotten all of the April showers that I am use to having here on the east coast but, I am looking forward to those May flowers.  It is time for a fresh start.

The end of March and all of April were filled with tests and trials of the financial and non-financial type.  I am looking forward to getting back on task and taking back control.

In March, during Spring Break, we visited the grandparents in the Seattle/Tacoma area.  It was a great visit but I always get a little out of control in relation to food when I leave my “home” zip codes.  For instance, we ate lovely Dungeness crabs at Pike’s Fish Market.  The experience was about $70 for 3 of them.  Yikes!  Still, I wouldn’t have given back one bite because it was awesome!

In April, thanks to the generosity of her grandparents and as a reward for her great grades, Thrifty Image, Jr. was able to get a new fancy schmancy phone.  We continued to use FreedomPop, just upgraded her device to AWESOME.  We took advantage of all of these department store Friends & Family sales to outfit Junior for Summer camp – t-shirts and shorts and undies, oh my!

I also indulged in buying A LOT of product for my hair this month.  I have naturally curly (and dry) hair and I have decided to grow it out.  Healthy hair requires a commitment and some of that is in dollars and cents as well as time.  So, I have purchased many, many, many conditioners, leave-ins and styling creams to help in my journey.  My plan is to spend a little more on products healthy hair from home rather than spending A LOT more for healthy hair from the salon.

And the snacks.  I have over indulged in everything from Oreo’s and DeMet’s Turtles to the new Frosted Coffees from Chick Fila.  OMG has anyone else fallen in love with those?  I am hooked on those the same way I used to be hooked on McDonald’s Sweet Tea.  Oh no, now I want some Sweet Tea!  Spring came and my self-control seemed to have fled. What is interesting is that I have been busier than ever so I am not even sure how I had the time to devote to so much snacking but apparently, where there is a (lack of) will (power), there is a way.

Well. To not quote NSync “It’s Gonna be May!” And I have a plan.

Beginning May 1 – 30 day water challenge drinking one gallon per day.  I found when I did this in January, not only did I get the benefits of the additional hydration, I had less desire for processed sugar.

Join a gym – There is a new You Fit in my neighborhood and it would just be un-neighborly to ignore it.  I am going to have Junior join with me.  Soon, school will be out and I need her too tired to think up mischief or to use the word “bored”.  Did I mention we are going to Jamaica later in the Summer using my Rapid Rewards points?  I have a couple of months to get beach body ready.  More on how I scored a practically FREE vacation with points in another post.

Yard Sale – A May yard sale would be a make up sale for the one that was rained out last Saturday.  Even with the rain we made $12 because buyers knocked on our door. So I think that next time, we should do well if the sun shines upon us.

Test new recipes – In an unusual move, I got caught up in fast food and restaurant eating way too much over the last 5 weeks.  Well, enough of that.  It is my least favorite expense when I look at my Mint account.  I think it is because even when we eat out, it doesn’t correlate to my spending less time in the kitchen.  There is no benefit because Junior and the dog are ALWAYS hungry.  So yes I will cook more but, I will save more – both my money and my cholesterol levels. This is thanks to Aldi’s consistently low prices and bonus – now that they accepts credit cards, I can use my Chase Freedom card this quarter to get 5% cash back of grocery purchase up to $1,500.

Even with my wayward ways in April, I still maintained my savings levels and charitable commitments so no regrets there. However, Junior and I will be having a chat about potentially lowering our cable/internet plan soon.  Expect to hear the sobs.  Like me, she loves her television shows (her-Disney, me-National Geographic).

I have a chicken that I will roast tonight, a half bottle of white wine and some trash tv shows to get through between now and April 30 – tomorrow!  Then, I am back in frugal mode because

It's Gonna by May

Have a great weekend!

Thrifty Image

Procrastination and Finances

Procrastinators Unite Tomorrow

I spent a lot of money and time in February getting some areas of my home organized.  My bathroom closet, craft and laundry supplies cabinets and new spice drawer are now functioning in a way that makes my time spent in those situations much better.  I will admit when I checked my Mint account and tallied how much I spent, I was a little affronted. That did not last long. I used money, in this case wisely and frugally, to achieve more peace in my home.  I am pretty sure that should be in the Top 10 of what money is to be used for.

That being said, by diving into home organization, I completely stalled on some other goals that I had planned for myself by the end of February.  March 1 is bringing a reckoning…

Below is a list of goals that I have put off and my musings as to why:

Finalize my will and trust and have notarized

  • Not done because I will obviously live forever
  • Not done because the notary I plan to use is a co-worker and she is out on short-term disability not to return until March 7. There are no other notary public in the world (even though I am a licensed one myself and have access to a listing of notaries).

Move my funds from current accounts to a Betterment account that I created A YEAR AGO

  • Not done because I have not had time (although I did start a blog, organize several areas of my home and caught up on the entire first season of Legends and The Expanse in that same year)

Reach out to a handyman service to arrange for attic project (clean and insulate)

  • Not done because of being genuinely perplexed as to what to do with all the items that are in the attic while the project is getting done.  The attic is huge and anything that comes done will overflow any space downstairs that is is temporarily relocated to.  Plus, I don’t want all that stuff to go back upstairs anyway.
  • Not done because because it is an $1100 commitment to pay the handyman for the project. I am hesitant.

Move Mirror Image’s College Fund from the current account to the Maryland 529 College Plans 

Not done because I haven’t gotten an answer on monthly contributions which takes into account the fund to fund transfer.  The website tool, while helpful, doesn’t completely answer this.

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” ~ William James

None of these are good excuses.  Just excuses. So, while February has finished a little light on certain goal accomplishment, many other goals were accomplished and March is giving me a new opportunity.  I anticipate the following mixture of financial and non-financial goals to be accomplished in March:

  1. Make dentist appointment
  2. Contact and pay handyman service for attic clean-out
  3. Have trust and will notarized
  4. Finalize Maryland 529 application and start the funds transfer process*
  5. Travel to Orlando for a work conference
  6. Spring clean in advance of having family over for Easter dinner

And, by the way, I am doing a 30 day vegetarian challenge this month, too.  I anticipate this will be the best March ever!

Thrifty Image Mirror

 

*I want to transfer funds from the current account to get the State tax deduction as well as to be able to see this account on Mint. Currently, the Private College 529 is not supported by Mint.

Walking the Talk

Accountability

I have been in Marketing and Public Relations for years. I have worked for small, large, private and public.  The faces and locations change but one thing that does not, is The Plan.  The Marketing Plan, that is.  I have never had a boss that hired me without the intention of having me create, and follow, a Marketing Plan.  The Plan shared our mission, our opportunities and limitations, our strategies, our budget and our timeline.  It made us, especially me, accountable.

If we got more customers by following the Marketing Plan, then it was a good plan.  If we did not get and or keep customers following the Plan, it was a bad plan and should be created better the next year.  If we did not follow the plan, I was a bad manager.

The same goes with money and decisions around money.  I see, both in my own life and in the purchasing and money management by others, how operating without a plan leads outcomes that are not ideal.

Buy a a home without a plan? No down payment and potentially higher mortgage interest.  No discretionary spending plan? Too much month left at the end of the money.  No credit payment plan? Expanded debt, delayed payments to creditors and lower credit score.  No estate plans? Family left to grieve and dig their way through the finances of the dead.

For years I have been able to give everyone what they needed with excellent Marketing Plans with successful results.  For years, I have been able to offer great advice to friends and family on what they should do to manage their money but, while I was doing OK, I didn’t do everything I could and should.  I never had to be accountable because it was only me.  I have decided to change that in 2016.

OK is no longer good enough.

It won’t be enough to know where my my money is. I will make it work smarter for me.

It won’t be enough to almost finish my estate planning, it will be finished and notarized by February 28.

It won’t be enough to give up clothes shopping in 2016. I will clear my home of all the unused clothes through purging, donations and yard sales.

It won’t be enough to think about moving my finds to the Betterment account I have had open but empty for months. I will do it.

It is no longer acceptable to me to work until 65.  I will make a new plan to semi-retire and work from my home office and or for myself within 5 years.

As far as I am concerned I have done the hard part.  I have made all the mistakes I need to in order to make the right choices going forward.  Plus, I have an awesome kid, an old house, a new to me vehicle and an emergency fund.

Let the plan begin!

Thrifty Image Mirror

 

Cleaning Up for Financial Success

Cleaning

This is the time of year for listing and embarking on goals for the new year.  Eat better.  Save more.  Exercise. These are all important goals but this is not that kind of post.

This weekend, the Thrifty Image household is embarking on one of it most exciting yearly projects — cleaning up after the holidays!  What, this doesn’t excite you?

We are taking down the tree, wrapping up the ornaments, getting the last of the presents up from the festive floor in the corner and into the appropriate closets and drawers and then…the work really starts.

I have found the post holiday cleaning ritual helpful as a clean break from the frenzied but fun pace of the holidays, and a helpful level set to the nesting and preparation and contemplation of the new year. I have found that breaking out the cleaning caddy full of gloves, rags, polishes and cleansers gets us closer to what we have.  Scrubbing the bathroom floor on your knees lets you find that diamond earring that fell under the radiator.  Cleaning the underside of the window blinds alerts you to any drafts coming through gaps that you haven’t noticed before. Dusting your home office (where you threw the excess stuff that didn’t have a home as you prepared for Christmas guests) allows you to start eyeing your financial paperwork as you start thinking about tax preparation.

Largely, though, cleaning gets you up close and personal to your possessions.  And once your get personal, your can have some important personal conversations:

  • To the missing blouse you found under the bed I have missed you.  I am glad you are back in my life again.
  • To the junk you put aside so that you could donate it but never got around to said donation It has been fun but, I am moving on.
  • To that diamond earring you found – You are so pretty, I know someone that would be a perfect match for you.

Using what you have (no need to purchase another!), giving away what you don’t but that could be a blessing to someone else (tax break!)  and putting your stuff  in order (declutter!)  all work together for financial success.  And, or course, a clean house is a healthy house which equals not spending unnecessarily on medical visits and possible medications. It’s a clean thing!

Are you ready to bust some suds?

Thrifty Image Mirror

2016 Goals

Goals - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is the time of year to set new goals and challenges so I am jumping in with both feet.  It has been years since I have formally resolved to act a certain way based on the beginning of the new year.  I am excited to see how sharing my goals in a blog helps me to progress.

Research and participate in at least six 30 day challenges in 2016

This is big for me. With the exception of the Paleo Whole 30 I did in 2014 with my sister, I have not ever been one for this type of activity.  But I am excited!  I have already started my first – the 30 day water challenge (more on this in a later post).  I think breaking in new habits through manageable challenges like this will work for me.  I don’t have all the challenges picked out, yet, but six is the goal.  The financial windfalls here are already embedded in the challenges themselves.

Spend more money 

Okay, relax.  It is not as simple as that one statement.  For years, since I started my family basically,  I have been a little afraid when it comes to spending money.  Afraid of being laid off and not having a salary, afraid of not being able to help send Mirror Image to college without the aid of student loans, afraid of not being able to pay the mortgage, etc.  So for years, I have been a squirrel.  Savings were squirreled away into various accounts for the day when the EMERGENCY came.  It was the right thing to do and I stand by it. I will always continue to save. But it was a little extreme and there has been a cost.  And in 2016, I am going to force myself to pay the cost.

I plan to spend more money on my house and health.  Specifically:

  1. Hire contractors to completely rip apart my bathroom and build it back up.  This is not just for cosmetics. I am pretty sure there is mold growing and that is no good for anyone.  Plus, it is the only bathroom in the house and the smallest bathroom I have ever lived with in my life so, it must be improved – for resale value and more importantly, health value.
  2. Hire contractors to insulate my attic.  This one I am just embarrassed by.  I should have had this done before I moved into the house 9 years ago.  (I didn’t know the importance – really!) Before all the junk that doesn’t fit anywhere else in the house got piled up there.  And before the outrageous energy bills that come with an un-insulated house built in the 40’s facing northeastern U.S. weather.  But, I can’t dwell on the past.  My goal is to get it done in 2016.
  3. Hire painters.  I bought a Groupon last year to have my living room and dining room painted and I still swoon at how awesome Groupon is and how awesome it was to have a fresh paint job with fresh colors and a professional touch.  Well, I have been putting off the  rest of the house and it is time to get the last 3 rooms complete – 2 bedrooms and a hallway.  And yes, Groupon will be my vehicle of choice for that. (Groupon will totally get it’s own post one day I am sure.  It is perfect for the thrifty minded).
  4. Participate in at least five 5Ks.  The fees for these range and take some actual budgeting and planning but I don’t see a financial barrier this goal. Also, this really should not be a stretch goal because I have done this before.  However, it is a stretch because I want Mirror Image. to participate and she is anti 5K.  Not sure why.  At home she is a bundle of energy streaking around the house with her loving German Shepherd by her side.  But, tell her it is an organized event that we have to get up at 6am for?  No bueno.  No matter, in 2016, I will tickle drag her to at least five such events and somehow get her to admit just how awesome the experience is :).

Donate more money

This has been a goal for over a year now and I think I am ready.  Currently, I set aside 10% of my income for charitable giving through my Church.  Since last year when I paid off my car, I have wanted to redirect some of that money to an additional charitable organization on a monthly basis. Unfortunately some unexpected blows sucked those funds up with blinding speed.  However, with those things settled, I plan to do it in 2016 beginning no later than March. (I will be sharing a post on my research of the finalist charities.)

Spend less money

Well, duh.  This is largely a personal finance blog after all.  Of course living frugally and thriftily would be part of the mix.  I have always been a pretty good money manager but this goal is about wisdom and not just management.  I want to purposely use money this year. Not reactively or impulsively. Therefore, I have a goal to spend less in the following categories:

Food – We are foodies and like being foodies but the amount of money I spend for 2 people needs a second look.

Energy – The amount I spend on energy is directly related to how energy inefficient my house is.  I am putting some measures in place to combat this (See the Spend More Money goal for details)

Clothing – There is really nothing I can do about Mirror Image’s clothing budget line except catch the best sales and buy off-season.  At 11 years old, she grows every time she wakes up, it seems.  But as for me, I plan to organize my closets and all the off-season clothing in the attic to make sure I am always aware of what I have for each season and  the USE WHAT I ALREADY HAVE.  This combined with keeping my clothing size stable should keep me from needing to supplement my wardrobe unnecessarily.

Expand my garden

Last year I committed more time and space to gardening and loved the results!  I grew watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes and Italian eggplant.  Plus, a mix of herbs in pots.  Now this may not seem like a big deal to many but I have the tiniest garden space and was still able to grow some substantial produce.  And the best part?  Mirror Image would occasionally help me in the garden, or just pop outside to pick fruit to snack on rather than candy or other junk food,  And, she is ravenous over fresh cantaloupe.  How could I not make plans to indulge this hobby?  I plan to purchase and or build some raised beds for this year’s garden to really get the biggest bang from this goal.

Get my automobile insurance lowered

If you read the previous post then, you know I had an unfortunate incident almost 3 years ago.  Well, I am happy to report I am incident for 2 1/2 years.  That puts me six months from being able to get my insurance lowered.  And that is my goal.  I think it is worthy of a goal because I expect the insurance company to resist.  Why not make me pay more rather than less?  Bring it on, I say!

There you have it.  My major goals for 2016.  I expect some new thoughts to arise as the year goes on but, these areas above are me putting my money where my goals are.

What are your 2016 goals?

Thrifty Image Mirror