In working on my Year End Review, I’ve taken a look at what went right this year. Now I need to Assess where I am and what I can do better.
This is the one area I’d consider an unqualified success. My goals are specific, my spreadsheet (which I’ve been developing since 2009) makes it easy to re-assess at any time, and I’m constantly upgrading my goals and pushing myself to do better and save more.
One tip that I started years ago: every time I sign into my bank account, I round my balance down and put the extra into savings. So if my checking account balance is $1057.98, I will sweep $7.98 into my savings and leave my checking account with $1050. When I first started this years ago I would round down to the nearest $5. But over the years that started to grow to the nearest even $10, then the nearest even $25, and now I frequently do the nearest even $50. I consider this my way of saving all my change in a change jar, even though I never use cash so I don’t have actual change anymore.
The smartest thing I did with my elliptical was to make a spreadsheet. Every time I use the machine, I tally the number of minutes and calories burned. This seems silly, but since I had already realized how well my Financial spreadsheet was helping and motivating me, I figured it might help me here too, and it totally has.
I’m always cost-motivated, and when we bought the elliptical, I wanted to make sure it would be a cost-effective purchase. So I keep the tally of how much we’ve used it to calculate the cost per hour of usage. The math is simple, dividing the cost of the machine ($1449) by the total hours of usage. The first hour, for example, was 1449/1, so if I had never used the machine again it would have cost me $1449 per hour. At that rate, it would have been a lot cheaper to get a gym membership!
But a year later, and not including the outdoor running we did over the warm spring/summer months, we’ve logged in 71.53 hours, bringing our cost per hour down to $20.27/hour. Much better, but still not yet a great deal. But we’ve got months of winter ahead to keep working on it!
(Note: I do keep track of calories burned, not because I think that number is reliably accurate, but just because it does help me track overall intensity. If I burn 512 calories today, now the next time I have a goal number in mind that I can try to beat, so it gives me incentive to work harder. David prefers to use the “distance” function for the same purpose, but I prefer the increased specificity of the calories function.)
Would it be better if I was motivating myself with just a desire to be healthy? I doubt it. Number data is a better motivator for me than some ephemeral desire.
For the coming year we have some buddies scheduled to come stay with us in January, but so far that’s it. We got a little overwhelmed with Couchsurfing requests this past year (we were getting one or two requests almost every day, which gets time consuming to respond to), so we’ve turned that off for the past few months. But we might want to consider turning it on again for a bit. Having company is fun!
Travel wise, we haven’t yet committed to a vacation yet. But we have signed up for a conference in Portland. We are determined to go on a trip this year, but it will likely be in the latter half of the year.
Another problem we have is that David and I are so good at being frugal, we sometimes have a hard time making new friends. Most people understandably want to take the easy route for a double date, and always want to “go out”: to a movie, to a show, to dinner. Our discretionary budget this year was, as usual, minimal, so we mostly had to decline, which perhaps stunted a few potential friendships we otherwise would have pursued. Luckily we were able to meet a few new friends who were able to tolerate our goals and preferences and appreciate a home-cooked meal, but this is an area we continue to evaluate.
I think we did ok with this one in 2013, but not as good as I would have liked. However we didn’t document anything at all so it is hard to know for sure. When we were trying to remember all the things we did do, I put a concert we went to on the list. When David looked it up online, it turned out we went to that concert back in 2011. How does time go by so fast?! Though we often get frustrated with the high ticket prices of some of the things that interest us, I am determined to do more in this coming year. You have to feed your soul.
The classes I took this year were a great success, and I definitely want to continue the trend in 2014. In fact, I’ve already got a few things planned…
Next up: Prioritizing my goals.