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2013, In The Bag. Bring it, 2014.

Every year of my adult life, I’ve taken this week off. This wormhole of space between Christmas and New Years, in which nothing really gets accomplished in Corporate America anyway. So, why bother? I’ve always used it to spend an excessive amount of time in my PJs, to putter, to read books all day, or binge watch a little TV. Heck, I’ve even been known to make a once a year foray into computer gaming. Sure, there’s some reflection happening. A recharging of batteries. And yeah, I also pay attention to some neglected tasks on the home front. In general though, sloth is the sin du jour. UN-productivity, the name of the game.

Not this year. This year is different in so many ways.
Happy? Tired? A little of both? You be the judge.

Returning to work after 6 months away, leaves you with next to no vacation time. Having a 6 month old makes doing what you want with that time nigh on impossible. An hour in front of the TV? Ha! 30 seconds with a book in my hand NOT entitled Little Blue Truck? Scoff-worthy, unless said baby is asleep. I have no time, and the time I have is not my own. But, this is not me complaining. I’m acknowledging the strange new trajectory my life has taken, and trying to figure out how the old constructs fit into this life. If they do at all. Case in point: Goals.

2013’s goals were largely successfully. Have a happy healthy baby? Check plus! Save a bunch of money so I could take 6 months off? Checkity-Check. IRA Contributions? Some. Maintain 3 workouts a week? Maybe not so much. We all need room for improvement.

When I look at 2014 though, its the same but different. I still want to save a bunch of money for various reasons. Pay down that Big Fat Mortgage, save for retirement, and targeted savings, and for a rainy day and just because. Save for all the reasons. But, also make that money work for me. Not just be prisoner to growing it in perpetuity. I might be starting to figure that out. I suddenly have better things to do with my time than count my scrooge gold.

2014, I’ve got big plans for you. Big plans I should say aloud. But, I tire of grandiose proclamation that don’t always bend to my time tables. I’ll still plug away at them. Just more quiet-like.

Dining. Eat out no more than 2X a month. Once with friends, once without. If said socializing date does not happen, then once a month. Continue (reinstitute, ahem) once a month latte excursion. A lack of regular sleep may have resulted in us being a little free and loose with this policy.

Baby. Putting this out there to limit myself. My baby does not need every toy that strikes my fancy. Thus far, we’ve done well by sticking to quality over quantity. Things got a little sketchy over Christmas, not with our spending, but everyone else’s. Going forward no more than 1 toy and 1 book a month, not including holidays, and not to exceed $50 a month. Because OMG have you seen the Stack and Scare blocks? We’ve also set limits on spending for those holidays and even his birthday.

25k Towards. The big, fat number has changed. We are no longer $X00K. We are now $Y00K. Making me feel so much better, and reminding me of the long way to go. I’m considering another refinance to once again lower the monthly payment and reduce our income requirements. Course I’m also considering white knuckling my way through this for as long as possible. In either case, I’d like to contribute another $25K towards the principal, helping in either scenario. $10K of this will be funds diverted from cash reserves that haven’t been doing me any good.

Maintain CD Ladder. Note: Maintain. Not build. I’m done chasing bullshit interest rates, and losing the inflation game. Yes, having the money there warms my miserly heart. But, I’m happy with the current amount. I’ll just let it roll over forever (or until we need it).

Maintain 10K in Cash Monies. And that is all. This is the emergency fund. Dogs, cars, house, medical. The money on hand to cope with most anything for a little while. In the past this category has gotten a little out of control. But, no more! 10K and only 10k.

House projects. Fencing to keep baby and Chicken Ladies safe (while creating a dwarf orchard), driveway paving, a hedge that has grown beyond its station in life. Last year we did things in the house. This year, the outside needs some attention. This will be separate savings from the 2 above categories.

401K Max Out. $17,500. This is a bit of a holy grail for me. I’ve never done it. I’ve come close. I’ve contributed a ridiculous percentage of my income to pre-tax retirement. But, maxed out? Not quite. With other changes on the horizon, this one still might be out of reach. I’m striving anyway. If everything else falls through, at least I’ll have some retirement to soften the blow.

I’ve got my speed back post-baby. Not my distance. Mostly because I haven’t had the time it takes for 10+ mile runs. Find the hours. Do the work. Maintain sanity. Everyone wins. I’m currently feeling like organized race events are a big money-making crock. One I don’t need. I’ll do it my ownself.

And that is all. I usually do this in two posts. A summary, a fresh start. I’m lucky I’m busting out the one. Goals are important enough in and of themselves, but we are far beyond standing on principle. 2013 will go down in the record books for this family. We said Hello to our Son. And watched our lives change. We unexpectedly said goodbye to a creature I didn’t realize I adored quite so much. Reminding us to enjoy the time we’ve got. Huge changes, renewed appreciation, and staying the course to get where you want to go.

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Good luck indeed! My goals are to find out once and for all whether Hubby and I can have a baby – we have an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist next week if anyone feels like sending up a prayer. And I really want to move from my vintage, barely insulated money pit of a house in a not-great neighborhood to something well built, well lit, and snug, so we’re saving up for that. Two very expensive goals, but they’re both valid desires.

Donna Freedman

My big-money job went away at the end of September and I decided not to rush to replace the income. Right now I’m writing anywhere from four to 10 posts in a month vs. eight to 10 per week. Being very careful with my funds lets that happen.
The flexibility has come in particularly handy lately, as my daughter and her husband are currently going through another miscarriage. I was able to extend my holiday visit to be here to help. Sigh.
Here’s hoping for a prosperous (and successfully reproductive?) 2014.


Donna – I was very sorry to hear about Abbey’s recent loss. I was hoping against hope for you guys, and I’m very glad you are there this time around. I’m sure it helps, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

And congrats on the downshift. If anyone can roll with the punches, its you. Here’s to a purposeful 2014!

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