A Fresh Start

boats

I don’t know what it is but for some reason humans like to start fresh.  If we give something up or start something new we always do it on a Monday.  Fresh start to the week?  A new beginning?  I don’t know what it is but that seems to be the way we are programmed.  So every 12 months we get the ultimate fresh start.  A brand new year to do or be whatever it is we want.

Now, most New Year resolutions don’t last.  We all know this but tons of us still attempt it each year.  Why is that?  I suppose its the hope that this time will be different.  Maybe its a lack of planning or trying to go too big too quickly with big statements about going to the gym everyday or loosing a massive amount of weight or whatever else it is that doesn’t usually make it past mid January.

Instead of a blanket resolution for the year I’ve been thinking that it makes more sense for me to take a look at the whole year and plan out the things I’d like to see happen in 2017.

I’m a big list person.  I live and die by the list.  If it needs to get done it has got to be on the list or else I’ll forget or I just wont get to it for weeks.  I love creating lists and then crossing things off of them.  I’m genuinely bummed out if I do something that isn’t on the list therefore I can’t cross it off.  Sometimes I’ll write it in after its done just so I can cross it off but it doesn’t have quite the same feeling as it would if it were on the list before I actually did it.

Having a dry erase calendar is a must for me.  Digital is all great but there is something nice about the physicality of a dry erase board, seeing the calendar on the wall in the kitchen and being able to look ahead and see what’s coming up.  It’s great for a family too because then everyone is on the same page and it’s in your face everyday not hidden in some app.

Here are a few things I’ll be mapping out for 2017.

bike

Hobbies –  It seems weird that you would even need to plan out your hobbies but the truth is life moves fast and if you don’t make time for the things you love you may not ever get to them.  I have been talking about taking sailing lessons forever.  I have a sewing machine that has only sewn half a skirt and has since been in the bottom of my closet.  I have also really wanted to learn how to properly use a DSLR camera.  Buying a bike and taking long rides on the boardwalk with my family sound so great too but the reason they haven’t happened is because I haven’t set aside the time to actually go and buy the bike or plan out the weekends to go for a ride. I might not get to all of these but If I do my research now on sailing lessons and plan them for sometime in July then it’ll be set and maybe it’ll actually happen this year.  I gotta be honest, I don’t think it’s the year for the sewing machine but the bike has a good shot of showing up if I get my act together.

Finance -Every year I get killed with taxes.  By the time I do them around March my tax guy tells me what I need to do to help myself out for next year.  It’s not rocket science, I can actually figure it out on my own so instead of waiting 3 months into the new year to do anything about it  I’m going to get my act together in January so that I’ll be in a much better place by tax time next year.   I need to be sure I’m putting enough into my, 401k, my FSA, and my son’s college fund.  By putting the max into my 401k I’ve not only lowered my taxable income but  I’ve also helped to secure my retirement.   For the college account  I use the Fidelity 529 plan.  If you have kids this is great.  I set up a recurring fund transfer for every time I get paid.  I don’t even have to think about it and slowly but surely the account is growing.  I also believe in paying myself first.  Figuring out what I can put into my savings every pay check is key.  I do that first and then pay my bills and anything left over is for me.  You’ll be surprised how quickly this can add up if you do it right.  This is my yearly finance at a glance but whatever it is that would help to get you more financially secure I recommend getting a jump on it as early in the year as possible.

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Vacations – This one is important.  Working hard and being busy with the day to day things in life is much easier when you have vacations to look forward to.  It’s also far too easy to never take the vacations you want to take purely because you don’t actually sit down and plan them.  Aside from the larger family vacations, which will likely consist of Ireland, to visit my in-laws, and Lake Michigan, with our friends,  I also find it super important for me to have small trips with just my girlfriends.  Most of my closest girlfriends have kids and live in different states so meeting in a fun destination for a weekend is so much fun and so needed every once in a while.   And last but not least, planning out alone time for me and my hubby.  Even if its just one night away 20 min down the road, its a night for us to connect and talk and just enjoy each others company instead of worrying about the day to day stuff.

hike

Fitness – I think about fitness much more in terms of my health than my vanity now.  I want to be sure I’m actually breaking a sweat more often.  One thing I found that I enjoy doing is hiking.  I think making sure this happens can be as easy as setting a date with a friend to go hiking.  When you plan something with a friend there’s more accountability to it.

Weekly Meals – This one is for my sanity.  I have got to plan out my meals for the week and get the shopping done ahead of time.  I need to account for leftovers so that food doesn’t go to waste.   We would save a ton of money by just not throwing food out.  We also waste so much money on eating out, not because we really want to but because we get home from work, there’s nothing for dinner, we need to get Jack in the bath and down for bed so the next thing we know we’re ordering in and spending about $40-$50 bucks just for the two of us.

Health – I have a blog series coming out that will have a bigger take on health but for now here is what I’m doing to be sure my health is taking priority this year.  I’m making a quick list of all the check ups my family needs and then sitting down for 30 min and getting them all scheduled.  The dentist, well baby visits, physicals, eye exams, all of them.  Just get them done.  Then add them to the family calendar.

These are all important things for me as I look ahead into 2017.  I feel like this is the best way for me to be the most productive, happy, healthy, and financially sound.  I wish the same for all of you.  I’d love to hear about the things you plan out as you look at the year ahead.  There may be some things I haven’t even thought of that I’d love to do.  Here’s to a really great 2017!

 

 


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