The new month marks the beginning of another experiment. Continuing my quest for self development and introspection, I've decided to add to more things into the mix. My current goals of 2017 include:
- Writing at least once a week
- Exercising a minimum of 3x a week (really aiming for 5x)
- Doing more community service (failing miserably - I think I'll aim to do something monthly)
- Hold monthly 'Our Shared Meal' dinners
- Try to do a weekend trip every month
So far I've been able to keep up the exercising and the writing (prioritizing making time for myself), and organizing monthly Our Shared Meals. Since the middle of February, I started a six month 50% rotation at my full-time job (to help cover for someone on maternity leave), and also picked up a part-time second job. As a result, I'm motivated to be more organized and forward thinking, and also be more selective with the things that I do and how I spend my time.
bla bla bla - so what's next?
Starting Q2'17, I'm adding some new goals.
Challenge #1: Competing in a 30-day Spring Challenge 2017. How do you win? To summarize, to win - for the next 30 days, all you need to do is
- exercise daily
- drink no alcohol
- eat no sweets or pastries
- snack only on fruits and vegetables
- eat a salad for one of your daily meals
If you miss in any one of these categories on a given day, you're deducted a point. Person with the most points at the end of the month wins. The Winner is a BOSS and is treated to as much Ethiopian food as he/she desires in one sitting.
Personal side goals of mine are to drink 80 oz of water a day, cut out breads and pasta, and lose these friendly six pounds I managed to gain in the last two weeks. Score. In addition, sabotage one of the contestants from winning because he eats maybe 4x the amount of a normal human, as it would be a significantly more expensive meal.
Unless I come down with the flu or injure myself exercising, I have a decent chance to win a free meal. Full disclosure, I was craving a Costco muffin all day today, and today is day one.
Challenge #2: Spend less than (or equal to) $1,500 a month. Note: This does not include rent.
Long story short, I accidentally changed my 401K contribution making my paycheck significantly smaller than I was accustomed to. There was some study that found that as people upgrade to larger living spaces, their purchasing and spending habits tend to adjust and they end up just filling the larger "space" with as much (or maybe even more) things. I don't want my spending habits to necessarily increase with changes to my income. Therefore, instead of reverting what I had done, I decided to challenge myself to make spending choices like a normal person, and force myself to be intentional regarding how I spend my money.
March was my first month where I made conscious monetary decisions. Slightly cheating, I left a little bit of buffer in my checking account so that I wouldn't overdraw in case I had a cash flow issue. And I'm extremely proud to say that I did it, and beat it by a few hundred dollars. With this money leftover, I'm hoping to save up to go on an adventure somewhere.
I've been on and off reading the book I will teach you to be rich by Ramit Sethi (but he also has a website), and his idea of "conscious spending" really resonated with me. The concept is relatively easy, where your income is 100% (and a set value), and there are general percentages per category of spending - however within certain categories you can spend it as you'd like.
"Jokingly" I say that I want to retire by the time I turn 30. By this I mean that I would love to be at a place where I - and maybe a family - could live comfortably off of my passive income, and everything else would just be for fun. My dad once said that I'd probably need to be investing at least 3 million dollars. Unfortunately for me 30 is right around the corner, and I'm a few million dollars short.
I was talking to some friends the other week about finances and investment, and there was a general consensus that it seemed like boys were taught to (and did) invest their money at a much younger age than girls. As a result, if you think about it due to compounding interest, men are probably generally better off financially (per age cohort) than women. I too am guilty of this, and even now when I know I should invest, I am reluctant to learn the stock market, or even open another account (and password) to make a brokerage account. But why is it that girls don't learn how to manage their money or invest when boys do?
During the last Our Shared Meal, we were discussing what we would do if we happened upon five million dollars. I was impressed that everyone said that they would save or invest half - if not most of it. Some would buy a place to live first (understandable), and then invest the rest. I tend to think about about how would I donate this money, which is probably why I don't have millions of dollars right now.
SO since I love games, I thought I'd turn this into a game to test and challenge myself to see if I could change my spending habits and how I live my life, and start investing. Someone once told me that only I would try to convince him that budgeting was "fun". But also, I want to create awareness to those who aren't already - your friends are investing and starting now will make a difference.