Today we’re bringing you another round of He Said/She Said. These posts are really your chance as readers to hear how discussions (and sometimes disagreements) play out when managing our lives with each other. For a look at some of the past He Said/She Said discussions – check ‘em out here.
While the books have not yet closed on 2013, Mr PoP and I are looking forward to 2014 and the challenges and delights that it will (hopefully) bring our way.
How did 2013 go? This time last year, we were closing in on paying off the final balance on our HELOC and still had a car loan and a $50K personal loan outstanding. Our stretch goal was to pay all of those off while also maxing out our tax-advantaged savings (ie our 401Ks and our Roth IRAs). Amazingly, we pulled it off. The goal we didn’t reach, however, was keeping our spending under $50K for the year. We’ll talk about this in our year-end income statement (Wednesday’s post), but the way we calculate it, we didn’t quite make it. (Some other ways that people calculate it might give us a pass… but we’ve each got to use our own measures.)
This coming year, though, our goals are expanding a little bit, and are a bit less financially focused as we look for 2014 to be a year where happiness becomes an even greater priority.
No great changes on the Personal Finance front – my (lumpy) income should be slightly higher than 2013 levels, but probably not quite as good as 2012. This will let us max out our 401K and Roth accounts, while putting an additional $50K in a taxable fund, likely Vanguard. Steady as she goes…
Fitness / Stress Relief
2013 will (barely) go down as a “win” as far as work goes, but it is becoming clear to me that what underpins a successful year in sales is a positive mindset and good health. As Q4 2013 wound down I found that cardio exercise affects both of these things and I’m going to make it a priority for 2014. It’s doubtful that you will find me doing a triathlon any time in the future, but the positive effects from a of a half hour of spinning in the AM are just too big to pass up.
Meditation is a stretch goal. More and more tech firms are using it as a “productivity hack” and I’ll be trying to jump on that bandwagon for 2014. I’m not sure I have the patience for it, but you can track my progress here!
I think that 2014 will be the year of travel for Mrs. PoP and me. This is a big deal if you know our history – we used to move around a bit and have lived in Hawaii, Mexico, Pennsylvania, Arizona, other parts of Florida, and even spent a decent chunk of time across the pond in the past. It feels like we have been spending a ton of time in our corner of Florida, and we’re ready to stretch our wings a bit. The travel list includes Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting, Burning Man, Australia, and smaller trips “back home” and to various marathons. If you know of somebody else who is going to be at the Berkshire Hathaway meeting AND Burning Man in 2014 – let me know, cause they are obviously one BAMF…
My two main goal categories this year are finances and fitness.
My big financial goal this year is going to be keeping our spending under $50K. We were pretty close this year – and were it not for paying off the car loan balance we would have been even closer. Areas that I think are ripe for trimming back are:
- Cars. This was ridiculously high in 2013, in no small part because we paid off the car loan, and found ourselves needing to put four new tires on both cars during the year. If the Q1 Car Challenge is anything except an epic failure, car spending should be way way down in 2014.
- Cell Phones. An inordinate proportion of our “household bills” category has been our 2 iPhone cell-phone plan from Verizon and neither of us has been eager to drop it. But now that our contracts are up, we’re looking to switch to Ting in the new year. Though we’ll have to pay upfront to purchase new/used phones, with our usage history, we expect our bill to drop by about $100/month. *Fingers crossed* that this is an easy win.
- Groceries / Restaurants. This is still the category of our spending that provides the quickest view to where our stress levels were that month. And when the spending goes up, it’s generally NOT because we’re splurging on organic produce – it’s convenience foods that aren’t the healthiest. Which brings me to my next goal…
Health & Fitness
As we age and are officially “in our thirties”, I’m seeing that our bodies have a striking similarity to a DCF model. That is, they are both easily susceptible to the GIGO principle. What is GIGO? Quite simply, it’s:
Garbage In —> Garbage Out
- Food is going to be a primary method of attack on this front. Over the past 6 months I’ve been slowly trying to replace convenience foods that we had come to rely on (think boxed mixes) with homemade varieties. Not only because it’s cheaper in many cases, but because I’d like to work our way towards Michael Pollan’s deceivingly simple food guidelines that he wrote about in the book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
- Exercise routines are also going to be added to this year. Running is definitely important to me, and 2013 was the year I started biking to work and I’ll keep that up. But, considering how expensive our pool maintenance is, I want 2014 to be the year that I start swimming more, with the stretch goal to complete a triathlon by the end of the year. This is going to be my biggest challenge this year and I know it’s mostly going to be mental.
What are your 2014 goals?