I’ve been dabbling in setting goals for myself the last few years. While I didn’t set formal New Year’s Resolutions for 2017, I did aim to read more, get our household budget in order, and make a housekeeping schedule.
My goals for 2017 were loose and not well-defined. I think mostly because I didn’t want to set the bar too high and fail. No one likes failure! So my method for this goal involved a running list on Google Keep. I add books to the list as I hear of them from friends, family, or posts on social media.
Once the book is finished, I check it off along with the month and year I finished it. As you can see, reading definitely ebbed and flowed. I would finish a couple in one month then not read for a couple. I’m so proud of my progress though!
I read 12 books in 2017!
I don’t think I’ve read so much since I was in college! In case you are curious, here is my full list*:
- The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith
- Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
- Falling Free by Shannon Martin
- The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
- Control Girl by Shannon Popkin
- Bill Peat by Bill Peat
- Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
- Grain Brain – Whole Life Plan by David Perlmutter
- Grain Brain by David Perlmutter
- Gut by Giulia Enders
- The Widow Wore Pink by Robyn Dykstra
- The Autoimmune Solution by Amy Meyers
*These are NOT affiliate links. Just making sure you can find the exact book if you are interested!
The next loosely defined goal was get our household budget in order. It’s not that we didn’t have a budget. We did. I am a numbers person, and I worked as an actuarial analyst before I had kids. So, I know numbers. I know how to crunch them six ways from Sunday. However, my super-awesome, super-complicated spreadsheet budget was just not cutting it.
It was too hard to update and maintain. It was so time consuming so I’d put it off for 2 months because I dreaded sitting down to enter everything. I was just shooting myself in the foot every time though because waiting just made it take even longer! It’s been a vicious cycle I’ve been in for years.
I had tried Mint.com in the past, but I didn’t like the logic behind it. At that time (it’s been several years so maybe it’s changed now!), it was a backward looking budget: What did you spend this month in each category?
I was looking for a budget that is forward looking: I want to spend $X in this category each month. I was looking for something more similar to Dave Ramsey’s envelope system.
Enter, You Need a Budget. I had also tried this software in 2016, but I didn’t invest the time to learn how to use it properly. The time of my free trial expired, and I, lazily, went back to my old ways.
I contacted YNAB in January 2017 to ask if I could start my trial again, and they reactivated it! Sweet! Bonus point #1 for YNAB!
I started the trial January 17, 2017. I signed up for their free webinars to learn how to use the software correctly. The webinars were invaluable. I tried just winging it at first and using the software how I thought it might work, and I totally got confused. Once I sat through 2-3 webinars, I was up and rolling and haven’t looked back.
YNAB imports transactions from all my various sources in real time (well, real time + 1 day, close enough!). It literally takes minutes to update my transactions and budget each time I log in. I find myself checking in every couple days which has HUGE benefits:
- I know how much money I have to spend in each category. I’m not waiting 1 or even 2 months to check in to see how much I’ve spent in each category. I’m in there once or twice a week and therefore, my budget is up-to-date with accurate totals for each line item in our budget.
- I don’t loose track of large purchases or many small purchases. The problem with my infrequent budgeting was simple forgetfulness. I’d forget how many times I’d hit the coffee shop, so I’d get another cup. Then I’d do the budget a month later. Whoops! I spent $60 at the coffee shop last month when I’d only budgeted for $30.
- I keep track of our overall financial condition. I keep track off all our investments (this is just a total tracker no actual functionality is in the software for investments), debts, saving accounts, checking account, and credit cards. I see it all ever time I log in. Nothing is forgotten.
I’ve been using YNAB* for 1 year now, and it is the best $50 I’ve spent all year (Update: The price went up! It’s now $83.99/year. I’d still recommend it. It’s a great software.). If taking control of your finances is a goal for 2018. I highly, highly recommend using You Need A Budget.
*This is not a sponsored post. I just love and actually use this software.
My house desperately needed help in the cleaning department. Since having kids, I had not tried to find my way in maintaining my house.
I read blog after blog about this or that schedule. For me it all boiled down to, what is important to me to have clean? So I made a list of my top items that make my house feel clean to me.
- Vacuumed floors
- Clean bathrooms
- Clean kitchen
- Kids fingerprints on the windows
Then I made a list of regular maintenance items that just need to get done:
- Clean furnace filter
- Clean dehumidifier filter
- Condition leather couches
Those lists aren’t too long, are they? Yeah, that shocked me too.
I broke up the first list to tackle one item a day for each day of the week (or a portion, I can rarely get the whole house vacuumed in one day). I use Google Keep again with a post for the my daily to-dos (more mundane, everyday things) then a post for the once a week chore, like below.
I then put a reminder on my calendar to tackle the second list once a month.
You know what happened? My house felt so clean two weeks in!
The other great benefit? If I missed the bathrooms this week, I could still breathe easy. They’d be hit again in 7 days! No need to stress. No need to worry. There is a plan to get back on track.
This simple housekeeping schedule has saved my sanity over and over again this year. Now, do I stick to it every week? Of course not, but again, there’s a plan, and I just hop back on it once our schedule returns to normal.
So there’s my review of my goals for 2017! Do you make goals or resolutions each year? Are they structures with well-defined outcomes? More good-intentioned thoughts? Do you ever sit down at the end of the year to evaluate how it went???
I had an awful fall with asthma issues (probably due to this pregnancy–thanks baby #4!) and I ended up arranging to tutor a friend’s daughter in pre-algebra while my friend literally vacuums and dusts my house. This has been amazing because these are the two chores that are most of an issue for asthma symptoms AND it gets done once per week–way more often than I was trying to get it done! Vacuuming is also not so kind to the ol’ baby bump. The Mathy part of my brain is so happy afterward, too. And, the best part: we are swapping services, so no money is exchanged. Eh? Eh? Not too shabby! 🙂
Oh my goodness, genius idea!