When January rolled around, I already knew and was planning for my goals for 2018 (I prefer to call them goals/intentions and not resolutions, because to me the latter holds the promise of being abandoned by January 3rd). I actually had an entire list of goals, which I have been doing for the past few years. However, I decided to trim it down as I’ve burnt myself out in the past by trying to do too much, and experts say that you should only really focus on one or two big goals to be successful.
This was it – I was going to get my shit together once and for all with the two big F’s.
1. Finances – and all the fun that comes with it.
2. Fitness – or more specifically, my overall health. But, another F is just more fun. 🙂
The list should technically be reversed, because if you ain’t healthy, you ain’t wealthy (or maybe even alive – yikes).
Being that we are already in July, what better time than now for a midyear check in to see how I’m stacking up thus far?
Prior to setting these intentions, I guess I wasn’t doing so bad financially but I wasn’t doing as well as I should be, either. I’ll have to delve into the background on my financial history (which includes financial abuse) in another post at another time. In the meantime, know that I’ve been in a slow rebuild since my divorce and subsequent bankruptcy, which I believe became final in 2011. I’m finally in a place where my credit score isn’t embarrassing, and my salary puts me in a prime position to save, save, save.
The only real roadblock I’ve encountered since? Me.
I’ve always loved shopping, going out to eat, vacations, and especially a nice glass of rosé – as a result, spending money frivolously just came naturally. I also sucked at saving, mostly because it was just an afterthought, something I reactively thought of once an emergency popped up. In the past (aka the twenty-something version of me), I actually was pretty well-versed on the basics of getting out of debt and saving, but I had abandoned it after my divorce (and I admittedly focused less on saving once I started making more money since I didn’t have to worry like I did when I was married). Even still, I was/am in a pretty advantageous position to start focusing on my goal(s), so I want to acknowledge that and preface my experience with that statement.
Privilege. Hey, it’s true.
I was raised by middle class white parents who were really good with their money. I realized later we weren’t rich (comparatively to all the levels of wealth), but I felt it at the time. I never worried about anything in the range of basic needs all the way to nice vacations – and lucky me, I was loved to boot. I had and experienced a lot in my childhood, and even with my own rocky start in my 20’s, I rebounded (insert help from the parents here, combined with my own effort).
Today, I have a relatively small amount of credit card debt compared to many Americans (roughly $3,700 at 0% APR, which should be paid off by September), no student loans, I paid off my car last October, a small emergency fund, saving 16% to my 401k with a 4% employer match, a Roth IRA, an Ellevest investment account and a 529 college fund for my son (email me for an invite for any of these). As my main focus is my retirement and my debt, none of those accounts are exactly rolling in dough, but they’re there and being contributed to regularly. I don’t have many bills, so a large portion of my income (I’d say over half) currently goes to debt and my savings/investment accounts. Mostly, my overall goal is just to improve on all of the above and add to my bottom line. Oh, and to be proactive about all of it from now on.
I don’t have the data from my spending last year (I’m sure I could look, but tbh, no thanks), but I know where most of my money went – eating and drinking. I enjoy being social with food and drinks in front of me, what can I say. I also never – and I mean never – made my lunch for work, something I have since rectified (and also goes hand-in-hand with the whole getting healthier thing). I was eating both breakfast and lunch out every day in NYC – my total was at least $25 per day, if not more. Add a drink or two when the trains were delayed and I likely spent upwards of $50 some days.
In general, I was wasteful with money because I had it. I didn’t look as closely once I didn’t have to pinch pennies and I realized I needed to be much better about this.
The trick for me was simply to look at my spending – a simple action that caused a lot of reflection on my part. I have also started using a slew of different apps to help me with my goals/that save me money, including Credit Karma, Mint, Personal Capital, Digit, Acorns, Stash, Ibotta, Drop, GasBuddy, and more (yes, it’s true. I am a personal finance app slut). I reviewed and adjusted my subscriptions accordingly (did I need to pay for 2 screens for Netflix? Nope) and I automated my savings. I use the zero-sum budgeting method, so every cent of my money has a purpose. I enrolled in the transit savings plan for commuters that offers me a savings by using pre-tax money. I likely will be switching to a Health Savings Account when open enrollment comes back around. I’ve been more intentional about my spending, and daresay I’ve lovingly crossed over to the category known as frugal (but only in categories where I absolutely should be). My best friend (who I also work with) literally asked me recently if everything was okay because I refused to go out for lunch since I had brought mine, and I had to laugh. At least I know I’m doing a good job resisting!
On that note, yes, I am still enjoying myself, just doing it a little less expensively (bonus: def fewer calories consumed). What an excellent time to segue into my other goal: health!
I have never been thin. Even at 18, I stuck to a strict diet and worked out twice a day, and while I think I looked pretty good, it wasn’t exactly apparent that I was killing myself with the effort, either. As I aged, I always aimed for a balance but I repeated the vicious cycle of losing weight and then gaining it back more times than I care to admit, each time cursing myself for being stupid enough to do it again.
Alas, like the Backstreet Boys, I’m back again (to needing to lose 30 lbs – ugh)!
I won’t pretend that the weight I’ve gained has been all due to grief or heartache, because the truth is it’s been a combo of that as well as extremely comfortable, happy living over the past 3-4 years. I can’t even be mad about it, though I’m not saying I’m thrilled, either. Remember how my snafu in the finance category for drinking was a central focus? Well, double trouble, toil and bubble, bitches – it’s a central focus in the weight gain department, as well.
Slutty in spending and empty calorie consuming! I just love my rosé.
What’s funny about this (or not) is that I barely used to drink – even socially. Then, I got a job in the wine industry, and my love for all things crushed grapes just amplified about a million times over. That’s about the time that weight slowly started to creep…and I noticed, but chose to do nothing.
I like to call this the danger zone of weight gain. Without fail, 5-10 pounds shows up on the scale, and I shrug it off, thinking how I still look ok, my clothes fit the same (more or less), and I sure don’t feel like skimping on my wings and wine (I’m very classy) while amping it up by going to the gym. Rinse and repeat, and the weight continues to creep up as my standards dip. Skip ahead, friends – the tale is old as time, and so is the extra weight I’m now the proud owner of.
My dad getting diagnosed with cancer and passing away within the space of 2 months took its toll, so while I want to pretend that I have been killing it in the gym, Stacy Ferguson-style, alas, I did not for the better portion of the year (aka, January – most of May).
I also won’t get into the Great Sugar Cookie Incident of 2018 (it was right after my father died and I was sad – no judging!). Shrugs.
However, things are on the up-and-up. I’ve been going to the gym since Memorial Day and have just been trying to implement small changes so as to form new habits. These include drinking less soda (and alcohol, though I actually did limit this from January) while drinking more water, eating more fruits and veggies and less sugar, getting in more steps and meditating. I have been taking it slowly, because the whole point of this is not to go crazy-obsessive about working out and losing weight, then get burnt out/bored and abandon it. I have lost about 5 lbs in about 5 weeks, which I think is excellent considering I had a few birthdays and holidays thrown in there with lots of food and generous amounts of alcohol consumed. So, yeah. I’ll get there.
I should backtrack and explain that the main focus of this goal is indeed my health – while that of course is paired with consuming calories responsibly and physical activity, my post thus far only outlines my goal in terms of appearance (cough, vanity). I actually did not set out on this goal with that being the focus, for once in my 37 years. No, I’m actually concerned about my actual health overall. Other goals on my list were to get a physical, an eye doctor appointment, and go to the gyno, which I’ve accomplished all but the last. Bonus points would also be a dermatologist appointment, but, one day at a time.
Sprinkle in a few other smaller things like generally organizing my stuff (currently Marie Kondo-ing the fuck out of my space) and reading more books and you have my goals for this year – voilà.
That’s enough about me – how are you doing on your goals for 2018? Need some help? Check out Pretty By Post’s prompts to guide you in your reflection.
And, here are some other related links I enjoyed and thought you might, too.
There are no shortcuts
4 Difficult Truths I Wish I’d Known About Getting Better With Money
What I Learned From My Quest To Meet 100 New People In 100 Days
Specifically ~ “I often think about the woman I’ve always wanted to be. A woman who gives more than she takes, who listens more than she speaks, who steps outside of the social norms and looks at things a little differently.”
This is something I aspire to, daily.
As always, with love + rosé,
[…] unhealthily laser-focused on the topic, but it’s definitely been the catalyst for making sure I get myself together financially and health-wise (the latter being an annoying ongoing struggle – but overall […]