Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy 2014, friends!  I hope you're having a wonderful (and relatively hangover-free) start to the new year!  I have to say, I think New Year's Day is my favorite holiday of the entire year.  There is just something about fresh starts, clean slates, and the hope of new changes, isn't there?

I'm thinking that many of you have some sort of personal finance-related resolution this year, am I right?  I have a few ideas swimming in my head as well, but haven't committed to anything yet.

I'm sure some of you are answering in your heads "Yes, absolutely!  This year I'll finally get on a budget and stick to it!  So get to the posts about budgeting already, lady! Clock is ticking!"  After all, that's the deal with New Year's Day, right?  Take your laundry list of new goals for the year, and start executing all of them once the clock strikes midnight January 1st, right?

When it comes to your finance-related goals this year, my friend, I'm going to give you this answer in return:




Here's the thing- do you remember the list of New Years goals you had last year, or the year before that?  You know, the ones about budgeting or losing weight or quitting smoking or saving money.  The ones you started fastidiously executing at midnight January 1st?  Let's be honest here- how did that end up going for you?

If your resolutions turned out like 99.8% of the ones I've made over the last 10 years, I'm guessing you kicked butt at them for 1-2 weeks, then maybe had a liiiiittle slip up or 2 somewhere along week 2-4, and then  left them completely in the dust come March 1st.  Can I get an honest Amen about this?

Remember how I said that managing money is all about psychology and emotion?  One of the greatest lessons I've learned about myself over the last couple of years is that I have a HUGE tenancy to get hyped up about something, dive in head first 1,000% percent, and then get overwhelmed or burn out as quickly as the obsession began.

Full (embarassing) disclosure, since we're all friends here: I'll fess up and admit my guilty offenders include budgeting (I've easily spent 100 hours creating intricate Excel spreadsheets that never get touched), starting a new business (I've created 3, and signed up with 2 home-based businesses), learning French (gifted Rosetta Stone tutorials still in the box 18 months later), cooking Indian food (?!?), and even running a marathon.  You guys- I've actually signed up (and paid for) 2 different marathons in the last 6 years.  Number of training runs logged? Zero.

Knowing this about myself, and hoping that at least a few of you can secretly admit to the same general behaviors,  we're going to approach your personal finance goals and actions a little differently.

What we're not going to do right now is make an aggressive list of challenging goals that will choke you, trip you up, and cause you to ultimately stumble right off the wagon.  That's not going to do us any favors.

What we are going to do is take this ride very slowly at first, get the hang of things in baby steps while we educate ourselves and - more importantly- start to understand our psychology and emotion behind why we behave the way we do with money.  I know that sounds kooky and totes touchy feel-y -- I promise you we won't get too Kumbaya up in here.  But it's important, so you'll continue to see that theme here.

Here's a little homework for you- if you've gotten to the end of this post and are still chomping at the bit to get this show on the road, I hear you.  Make sure you've read this post, and then take it a step further by playing around in Mint a little bit. I promise you that's a HUGE step.

If you want to go bananas, now is the time to start listing out all of your general expense categories (rent, each different utility, food, car insurance, etc.)  We'll go over that in detail soon, but feel free to get the ball rolling there if you'd like (or just stay in your pajamas all day, bake brownies, and be too lazy to wash your face like I am).

Happy 2014!

1 comment:

  1. Mint scares me because then it shows how I spend. HALP