Happy New Year, everyone! We’ve been back home from visiting family for almost 2 days now so I think it’s time I started to get back into the swing of things. If not for that reason, but because there is so much stuff scattered about our home, I’m beginning to not be able to see the hardwood laminate anymore. Moral of the story – I really, really, REALLY need to clean. But I’m not ready to be a productive member of society again so instead I’m snuggled up in bed with a pup, writing down all the New Year’s resolutions that have been swirling around my head for the past few days.
In years past, I have always included some sort of financial resolution as a part of my multiple health resolutions for the new year. On December 30th, 2013, I found out I was pregnant so it was easy to explain why when I returned to work, I had stopped drinking any caffeine (I made multiple daily trips to the office Keurig before) and I was making a point of eating a big, healthy lunch every day (I rarely took lunch unless I needed to take the dogs for a walk or we were going out for someone’s birthday). I had also resolved to stop hemoraging money. My husband and I had been trying to save money, but we seemed to be stuck once we hit $10,000. After that, we were always putting more towards credit card balances or trading a huge monthly payment to my student loans for the larger than necessary monthly payment on a new (pre-owned) vehicle. But when the pending arrival of a baby became known, I immediately cut back. When thtee weeks into the new year, we learned we were having twins, there was even more of a push to save. We had a quickly appproaching deadline to save up for medical expenses, all the baby gear, and 6 weeks without our primary source of income. The motivation to save was becoming more and more visible each day, thanks to my growing belly, making it much easier to save up.
One of the issues we’re having with staying focused saving for a mortgage downpayment is motivation. Our new home is not tangible yet. We don’t know what it will look like or when exactly we will find it, and that makes it harder to stay focused. Besides living in an apartment and being faced with some minor inconveniences like walking the dogs at 6am in 25 degree weather or having to drive to an acquaintance’s home to drop off recycling, we can’t constantly see this goal we’re working towards. Since I don’t have the visibility that my pregnant belly brought to add motivation and make me second guess my purchases, I’m creating some resolutions for 2016 that will add that extra push needed.
Pay myself first.
For the past couple months, we have consistantly auto transferred the same amount into savings. The amount is relatively conservative to account for months when we spend more. At the end of the month, I will transfer additional funds over depending on what our expenses amounted to. This year, I will edit the automatic transfer monthly, depending on the budgeted expenses. I will keep the transfers set to occur every two weeks in relation with my husband’s pay schedule. I’m positive that this will keep us on track to not go over in any expense categories since that money is already spent.
Use a detailed shopping plan.
My shopping list is already well organized and researched, but I would like to add to its success by requiring myself to write quantities next to each shopping item. It appears to be a small gesture, but since every item requires you to make the split second decision as to the quantity needed, this will discourage me from stockpiling sale items or not buying enough fruit to make it through the week. Since it’s also common for me to remember I needed something while shopping that may not have originally been on my list, I will be editing this action as well. Instead I will add the item to the bottom of my shopping list and keep moving through the store. If I still feel it’s an urgent purchase at the end of the list, I can always return to the item.
Purchase reusable, durable products.
I have no doubt that in the long run, this lifestyle challenge will save me money. As detailed in The Financials Benefits of a Zero Waste Home, switching to reusable towels pays for itself quickly as do glass storage containers and silicone freezer bags. But this guideline proves beneficial beyond the kitchen. Quality clothing items & linens, LED bulbs, and electronic media all are considered long lasting, durable alternatives.
Stick to a simple beauty & wellness routine.
It would be an understatement to say I have a spending problem when it comes to beauty products. When a product doesn’t work like a charm within a couple uses, I quickly move it to the bottom of my bathroom cabinet and move onto something else. Years of this behavior have proven to me that (1) there are no miracle products and (2) a simple routine is the most effective. I’ll be pricing out a lot of homemade beauty products this year as well as trading in some of the wellness purchases (11 supplements per day) for less expensive, simpler alternatives (a well balanced diet).
December was our least expensive month of 2015. We are probably the only people in the entire U.S. that can say this. Usually the holidays bring about tons of extra spending from gifts, travel, and other indulgences. And we did take part in all three of this categories. But we did it in moderation and with a lot of planning. We’ve known since probably last Christmas that we were going to make the trip to Missouri for the holidays to visit my husband’s family. Having this trip to look forward to and plan around made it a lot easier to say “no” to purchases we could have made in December. We didn’t want to have any perishables in the refridgerator when we left so we stretched out our meals to be more economical. Most importantly, traveling added some variety and spice to our daily routine, allowing us to enjoy new sites, but also be extremely appreciative of our home when we returned. We also learned that our children travel extremely well (for now) on long car trips so why not take advantage of this while we can! Before we even made it home, we were already talking about what short trips we should plan for 2016. I’m already started thinking about unnecessary purchases I can eliminate to make room for day trips to neighboring cities and long weekends to see family and friends.
I’m more than positive that my resolutions are attainable especially since they are guidelines to strive for versus hardfast rules. While I don’t have the visual motivation of a home right in front me, I can imagine how good it will feel to be making myself richer by paying towards home ownership instead of just making my landlord richer. I will also be checking in with my 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge on a monthly basis to see what new goals I can tackle. So far I have met 16 goals and paid out $400 to savings in accordance with personal challenge #19. Have you made any financially-oriented resolutions this year? Or did you make any last year and want to share your results. I would love to hear from you! Thanks for reading!