Tag Archives: goals

Ronnica’s 2016 Goal Updates

Now that we’re half way through 2016 (!), it’s time to look back on the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. To be honest, I haven’t really thought about them too often, as my life plan has taken over my focus, so I was a little worried.

In January, I set 2 goals as well as spending goals. My first goal was to spend 30 minutes each day to cleaning/straightening my apartment. I’ve been pretty successful with this goal, and my apartment shows it. Accompanied by getting rid of things and organizing, my apartment looks better than it ever has. I still have work that I want to do, but I feel much more comfortable at home.

My second goal was to do my Bible reading first thing in the morning. I still spend too much time on my phone (usually 15 minutes) before I get to it, but I am regularly getting to it. I would like to keep working on keeping the phone down first thing in the morning.

As for my spending goals, here’s how I’ve done through May (haven’t calculated for June yet):

Groceries
2016 goal: $1,820, 2015 actual: $2,026.04
2016 YTD: $888.75

I’m currently on track to be a bit higher than last year, but as I’ve radically changed what I’m eating, that makes sense. I think this will balance out a little lower, probably on track to be the same as last year’s spending.

Travel
2016 goal: $1,400, 2015 actual: $743.35
2016 YTD: $847.35

I’m currently above my goal, but as my two plane trips were in the first half of the year, I’m really on try.

Hobby
2016 goal: $260, 2015 actual: $625.93
2016 YTD: $24.99

Well below goal, yay! I am saving up right now for a backpacking pack, but will probably wait until next year to get it as I’d like to fit it to my new body, not my in-between one.

2016 gardenGarden
2016 goal: $75, 2015 actual: $319.60
2016 YTD: $68.18

This has taken a lot of self-control, but I did it! My gardening expenses are probably done for the year.

Eating Out
2016 goal: $200, 2015 actual: $281.98
2016 YTD: $37.09

I’ve eaten out twice this year (while not traveling). I was already not eating out a lot before, but making my own food from scratch goes a long way to not wanting to eat out.

Gifts
2016 goal: $120, 2015 actual $179.61
2016 YTD: $62.94

I’m over my goal, and will probably end over my goal by the end of the year, but we’ll see.

Clothes
2016 goal: $20, 2015 actual: $60.86
2016 YTD $4.30

Doing great so far, but I have a feeling I’m going to need to spend more than $20 this year. I do plan on buying my newer wardrobe as cheaply as possible, getting by with as little as possible and buying most of it at thrift stores.

2016 Goals Update: June

unnamed (12)My 2016 goals continue to progress about like I expected they would:  slowly but surely. It’s been awhile since an update; here are some highlights:

Make one extra mortgage payment.  Hmm, maybe I should ditch this one.  Plans have changed–imagine that!  In trying to strike a reasonable balance between frugality and seizing the day, we are toying with the idea of taking a brief family vacation in the coming weeks.

This is something that’s pretty overdue; we have actually never vacationed with just the four of us–extended family has always been present, and while that is wonderful, we also want a chance to experience a vacation with “just us.”  It’s also an opportunity to teach the kids about travel and flexibility, and to put our money where our mouths are:  experiences over stuff.

To that end, any money that might have been going toward an extra mortgage payment this year will likely go toward this trip (destination TBD).

Screen time to four times daily.  To assist me in this goal (which is a LOT harder than I expected it to be), I am very seriously toying with the idea of giving up my smartphone and going back to a “fossil phone”–that is, one that doesn’t have anything beyond basic texting and phone call capabilities.  The only issue with this is that I use my phone as a camera as well; quality differences may impact my final decision.

In the meantime, I have read some sobering articles on the negative impact parental technology use in the presence of kids can have on children.  That’s definitely made me think twice before picking up my phone more than any app ever has.  Plus, I want to be fully present with my kids–I don’t want them to remember their mother always on the phone.  I want them to remember her interacting with them.

How are your resolutions coming?

Pantry Staples

unnamed (6)After a recent post about groceries, I was talking with a friend about how we manage to go grocery shopping so “rarely”–anywhere from one week to three weeks.

That got me to thinking about how we pull it off, and what it boils down to is this:  we keep certain things (foods, spices, etc.) in our kitchen that can be utilized by many different dishes.  Here are a few examples:

1.  A broad assortment of spices.  In addition to the standard spices, like cinnamon, salt and pepper, make sure to have a few other options available too.  Ones I find I use a lot include ginger, cumin, parsley, and (surprisingly) crushed red pepper flakes.

The benefit to having a variety of seemingly random spices is that if you don’t have a spice on hand that a recipe calls for, a quick internet search often yields an appropriate substitute, thus eliminating the need to go out to the store and spend money.  For example, I did not have poultry seasoning on hand for a recipe, but I did have rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, marjoram, and thyme that Google told me would make a decent DIY poultry seasoning.  It worked!

2.  Protein source.  Be it lentils, peanut butter, chicken, beef, fish, or lamb, keeping a protein source at the ready can help you create the skeleton of a recipe.  Plus, if you stock up when meats are on sale, you can also save money!

3.  Veggies.   It is a well-known fact that I incorporate almost-rotten foods in my cooking because I hate the idea of wasting food (and thus wasting money), but don’t discount frozen and canned vegetables either.  Toss them in with your spices and protein source, and you are well on your way to a tasty casserole of your own making.

4.  Cream of something soup.  Ronnica makes her own cream of chicken soup; I prefer to buy mine.  No matter your soup origin preference, if you have cream of chicken/mushroom/celery soup on hand, then you have a critical component of hundreds of recipes.

What food staples do you keep handy?

2016 Goals Update

unnamed (12)Time for an update on how my 2016 goals are going!

Make one extra mortgage payment.  This hasn’t happened yet, but we are making great strides with skimming extra money off where we can (like with groceries).

To be honest, though, this goal is the one I am prioritizing last.  The bigger picture goal, of course, is to just pay off the mortgage and be completely debt-free.  Whether that happens via an extra mortgage payment per year, or in one lump sum, we will be thankful regardless.

Journal and devotions daily.  I have learned making this goal a reality really hinges on whether or not I get up early.  Peanut has been dealing with sickness of late, which makes for some irregular nights and challenging days, so I sleep when I can.  I try to give myself grace–if I can’t journal daily, that’s okay…I get up the next day and try again.

I have also begun to count family devotions as my own devotion time.  I appreciate the opportunity to delve into devotions privately, but also treasure the ability to share that time with my family too.

Screen time to four times daily.  I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this one.  We don’t have a landline, and as a stay-at-home-mom, my cell phone is my link to the outside world on many days–texting is how I communicate with many people, I call my father daily, taking pictures to send to the kids’ grandparents with my phone technically involves “screen time,” and things like emailing my daughter’s preschool teacher requires time with a screen.  My volunteer position also requires quite a bit of time in front of a screen lately.

Although I may not be able to scale back to four times daily (yet) for an hour a day (yet), it is still my goal.  For now, I keep my phone in one spot rather than carry it with me everywhere, which has actually proven quite helpful in eliminating unnecessary phone checks.

Invite six families to supper.  One down, one scheduled, four to go!  Making great strides with this one.

Posting my goal progress on here keeps me accountable.  How are your personal goals coming along?

Ronnica’s 2016 Goal Update

I’ve written a few posts already this year with my goals. Today, I’ll talk about the progress on these goals.

First, how am I doing on my resolutions?

I’m doing a good job cleaning most days for 30 minutes. My apartment is still not where I would like it to be, but it’s much closer than it was in December.

I’ve not been as faithful to distraction-free time with God first thing in the morning. I’m a habit person, but I feel like my schedule keeps changing, so I haven’t had a chance to build the habit. I know if it’s important to me, I’ll make it happen, though it may look differently as I’m temporarily shifting to a much earlier shift.

I’ve completed my organizational projects. I’ve successfully been able to keep no more than 2 pairs of shoes in my entry way. I noticed the other day that I had 3 pairs there for the first time in over a month, and I immediately rectified the situation. I definitely solved my problem without spending a dime.

hanging coats and bagsMy coats and purse problem has also been solved. They’re now hanging at the door, and I love it. My spices and pens have also benefited from their new situations. I was right in thinking that taking care of these things has encouraged me to take care of other areas of clutter as well.

I can’t provide much of an update on my spending goals, as I’m writing this mid-February. January’s “Buy Little” month started me off right. As good as it feels to sock away extra money for the month, my favorite part of “Buy Little” months is how it dampens my spending for the following months as well.

How have you been doing on any goals you set for 2016?

Ronnica’s Resolutions for 2016

Sometimes I think that I just write this blog to provide myself some accountability. I’m pretty sure I’m 75% more likely to do something if I have put the idea to paper, and three times as likely if I share it with others. (I’ve arrived at these numbers less than scientifically.)

Now that 2016 is here, it’s time to share what my goals are for the year. Because I have my 101 in 1001 list, I don’t make formal goals for the year, but I do want to use the opportunity that comes with a new year to try to work on things that I’ve been struggling with.

The biggest area of opportunity for 2016 is the general mess of my apartment. I know what needs to be done, I just need to do it.

To this end, I’ve decided to dedicate 30 minutes each day for cleaning/straightening until I get it under control. Hopefully it won’t be something that has to take 30 minutes a day forever, but I need to change the momentum of my mess.

A part of this effort has been identifying a few organizational steps that I can take to maximize my efforts. I’ll be sharing more about those projects in a future post.
journal and BibleSimilar to Amanda’s resolutions, I also want to focus on starting my days more intentionally. I know from experience that how I start the day sets the tone for the rest of the day.

While I’ve broken myself of the habit of sleeping with my phone, it has become the first thing I turn to when I wake up. I am still going to allow myself to check for any incoming texts (otherwise I will be focused on what I may be missing), but then I will be putting it back down until I have completed my Bible reading and journaling time. No TV, radio or music whatsoever during this time either.

I hope by allowing God’s Word to be the first thing to speak to me (instead of whoever’s posts or tweets I happen to run across) will help shape my day and make it easier to notice His promptings throughout the rest of my day.

With both of these resolutions, there are going to be days I fail. Maybe even weeks I fail. I’m not demanding perfection of myself, just a willingness to change and some effort even when I don’t want to give it.

I’ll be updating in February to let you know how these efforts are going in addition to the results of my 3rd Buy Little month.

What are you working on this year?

2016 Goals

unnamed (12)Last year, I discussed my take on resolutions.  It wasn’t anything earth-shattering–the typical annual list of goals; you can see a few listed in the picture to the left.

I didn’t accomplish some of them to the extent that I’d hoped (we only had a few families over, versus the six stated in the resolution, for instance), but others (like the Mama Time-Out) were quite successful.

Since sharing my goals with others holds me accountable, here are a few of my 2016 resolutions.  Not all are directly related to stewardship, but the trend does seem to be in the directions of being more mindful with my time–something that I want to improve upon in the new year.

Make one extra mortgage payment.  This would obviously cut down on what we owe on our home.  Not sure how we will get to this point, so please send me any tips you may have!

Journal and devotions daily.  Next month, I will discuss an experiment on early rising I have undertaken.  I hope to devote more time to journaling and time in quiet reflection during these early morning hours.

Screen time to four times daily.  I find myself heading to my phone to do mindless browsing of social media and websites a ridiculous amount of times each day.  I’d like to limit this to four times a day, for a maximum amount of 1 hour.

Invite six families to supper.  Although we didn’t get this completely accomplished in 2015, it is a goal that is both reasonable and challenging, so I am keeping it for 2016.

What goals do you have for the new year?

101 in 1001

Have you heard of the concept of “101 in 1001”? It’s a type of mid-term goal-setting where you set 101 things you wish to accomplish in 1001 days (approximately 2.75 years).

I really like the length of 1001 days for goal setting. You can have some reasonable idea of what the future might look like: for me, 5 years is just too far out. I also think it provides a more reasonable deadline than a bucket list does. And as opposed to New Year’s resolutions, you can challenge yourself further (and have more time to make up in areas that you stumble).

I made my first 101 in 1001 goal list when I turned 30…1003 days ago. I was able to complete 93 of the 101 things. I also really enjoyed it, so it was an easy decision to do a second one, which formally started yesterday.

As this blog covers specific topics, I won’t share my entire list here. But not surprisingly, a number of the items on my list conform to the themes found on these pages (you know, if blogs had pages).

Any list is made better by being made into a pretty spreadsheet.
Any list is made better by being made into a pretty spreadsheet.

So here are a few of the things I want to accomplish before June 9, 2018:

– Do another “Buy Little” month.
– Write a will.
– Redirect $1001 from budgeted items to savings.
– Build up savings to $XX,XXX.
– Save $7,000 for a new car (or devote to savings, if I give up car living).
– Build up retirement savings to over $XX,XXX.
Compost.
Can something (not freezer canning).
– Go through all 20 identified Marie Kondo zones.
– Purge 100 items.
– Forage for wild edibles.
– Grow 3 garden plants inside over the winter.
– Grow 3 new-to-me plants.
– Make something from repurposed materials.
– Save seeds and grow them.
– Keep track of every item brought into the home for 1 month.
– Keep track of every item disposed of from the home in 1 month.
– Buy a piece of clothing from Goodwill.

If you want to see my entire list, you can do that here. I can’t wait to get started on these things!

Short-Term vs. Long-Term

7933835192_2e1c968416_oI’m amazed at how often I sabotage my long term goals by seeking short-term satisfaction.

When I finished my Buy Little Month this time around, I broke my spending fast by buying all the junk that I had been craving: gummy bears, Fritos, chocolate-covered pretzels and a store-bought pizza.

Immediately, I felt worse. I hadn’t even taken a bite of anything yet before I felt the regret and guilt in my stomach. As fun as it was buying what I wanted, it wasn’t as satisfying as denying myself in order to help me get to my long-term goals (building emergency savings and living in a sustainable manner).

I was able to dismiss my feelings by daydreaming about eating my high-cost (in more than one way) treats. But they didn’t taste as good as I remembered: they never do. As much as I love snacking on junk food, my tastes are starting to change. It seems the more that I eat home-prepared food, the more I prefer it. This includes snacks and sweets as well as meals.

I don’t want to beat myself about the choice I made. It’s already been done. But I do hope that this is a lesson that I’ll remember going forward.

I recently read a New York Times article with the same point.  We often make short-term decisions that hinder our long-term goals. The more we align our daily tasks and decisions with our dreams, the better.

The next time I’m tempted to make a short-sited decision may I remember my long-term goals and hold out.

Photo by m01229

How I Paid Off $10,678.28 in 8 Months

My thermometer is full!
My thermometer is full!

I’ve found a lot of inspiration from other’s debt-free journeys, so this is mine.

When I started my job in September 2014, I owed $10,678.28 on my student loan. That was my only debt, but it weighed heavily on me.

I graduated 10 years ago next month with $19,125 in debt (plus interest). Between graduate school and unemployment, I had 5 years of deferment, of which I took complete advantage.  That means it took me 5 years to pay down my debt which is longer than I would have liked, but half of that payoff has been in the last 8 months.

When I accepted my current job last fall, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to pay more than the minimum payments on my loan. On paper, that was all I could afford. But with single-minded focus, I was able to find the money needed to pay almost $1,000 a month.

I really didn’t expect to have it paid off that quickly. I made my debt thermometer with the stretch goal of having my loan paid off in December. Turns out, that wasn’t much of a stretch.

Including interest, I paid $10,865.27 in 7 1/2 monthsSo how did I do it?

$1092 – Regular monthly payments (if that’s all I had paid, I would still owe almost $10k!)
$3000 – Savings which I emptied out to finish paying off my loan
$1732.38 – Income earned from working overtime
$1350.37 – Extra paychecks. I get paid every 2 weeks, but I budget for 2 paychecks/month. The bulk of those 2 extra paychecks went to my student loans.
$1085 – Tax refund. I don’t recommend saving in the no-interest bank of Uncle Sam, but not working for several months isn’t factored into the tax withholding tables so I had extra withholding coming to me.
$938.16 – Extra income from working a non-standard shift (since I prefer these hours, it’s definitely a win-win)
$465.96 – Work bonus
$391.61 – Cash gifts I received
$353.64 – Redirected money from over-budgeting 
$254.51 – Redirected money from my “Buy Little” month
$136.19 – Money from credit card rewards (don’t worry, I pay off charges as soon as it hit the card)
$58 – Income from odd jobs
$7.45 – Interest on my savings account

When I compiled this list two things stood out to me:

Every little bit counts, and

I could have reasonably been justified to spend any of this on other things. While I haven’t completely deprived myself, I have largely chosen to deny instant gratification in order to accomplish this larger goal.

It was worth it to be free from debt. I can now choose to do other things with my money and let interest work for me, not against me.

So I celebrated by creating a new set of thermometers. Maybe I should aim for completing these 7 months before my stretch goal date as well?

savings thermometers