As I did last year, I am really only going to make one tangible New Year’s resolution with the idea that other little things I hope to accomplish will fall in as they come. This past year, I made my health, both mental and physical, a priority, and I can happily say that, while I could certainly stand to eat better, I am much stronger, both emotionally and physically, than I was this time last year. I accomplished that by setting one small goal that grew into more and more goals. Only one was a “New Year” resolution and I let the others come as they came.
This year I resolve to manage my money better. When I found myself in a job I hated last spring, I was faced with the decision to either stay miserable (and possibly get fired because I had no idea what I was doing and wasn’t sure I was going to be able to figure it out) or quit and move back in with my parents until I found something better. I had no savings to get me through until I found a job.
Fortunately I have finally landed a job that I see big, great things for in my future. I hope to stay with it for years and years to come. Which means that I can hopefully start getting settled. Next time I move out of my parents’ house, it’s going to be for good. Which means I need to have those rainy day savings should the unforeseeable occur. Which means I need to stop being such an impulsive purchaser.
So my 2014 New Year’s resolution is to pay off my credit card debt, put a dent in my student loan interest accumulation, and have money in savings with no debt (besides the inevitable student loans) at the end of 2014.
After that I want to put $500 a month in savings until I’ve found an apartment I not only can afford, but would be comfortable living in. Which is to say, something clean, quiet, and preferably one bedroom.
Which means a lot of savings is going to be needed, because the rent in this area is sky high. I make decent money for my age, considering my Bachelor’s degree is in English and theatre, But not having a roommate means a lot to me. I’ll take one if it comes down to it and my parents kick me out first, but I would really love to have my own place.
Having my own place means knowing exactly what I’m responsible for. It sounds dumb, but living with other people makes it easy to refuse to clean up a roommate’s mess, or to assume someone else fed the cat, or even to avoid cleaning a certain bathroom because you share it with two boys and scrubbing all their dirt seems gross. I don’t mind my own mess, because there’s nothing to the imagination. Living alone means I know when I’m the one who caused the crumbs and what it was from, I know whose vegetables are in the crisper – which means knowing I am entitled to eating them or throwing them out, whichever is necessary – and how often I feel comfortable cleaning house. I’m not a neat freak and I’m not a slob. Neat freaks might call me a slob and slobs might call me a neat freak. I just prefer to be in control of that instead of constantly feeling either like I should be cleaning dirt I don’t see or wondering why someone else can bear the trash can stinking before I take it out for the 18th time in a row.
So point is, while my ultimate goal is to be financially independent and living comfortably on my own, the smaller goal is to pay off my debts and put money in savings. Then we’ll look ahead.
I’ve already stacked up my spring race season pretty hard, ideally keeping me in pretty good shape through May. But I really can’t afford any more race registrations or travel arrangements at this point. I’m going to sit on my hands and not sign up for Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, because in the interest of smarter financial planning, I just cannot afford a trip to California this year. I really wanted to do Dumbo and get my Coast to Coast, but maybe 2015 will find me at Tinker Bell or Disneyland and Wine and Dine. The beauty of making health a priority is looking forward to the coming years instead of fearing them.
So instead of stacking my 2014 with any more races, I’ll have a fun spring 2014 and then spend the summer finishing graduate school, maybe getting a pool pass and becoming a better swimmer. I’ve always loved the water, but had serious pool anxiety for the longest time because of fear of bathing suits and girls on the swim team. And the beach doesn’t exactly lend itself to practicing your strokes. So now that I don’t have any reason to fear the pool (not because I have some ultra hot bod, but because… I don’t care), I’d love to spend more time in the water doing such a great form of cross-training.
The only other race I want to do in 2014 is a fall full marathon, my first 26.2, and after that assess whether I want to stick to half marathons or repeat fulls. But as for running, after May I intend to make it a “because I need to be in shape for a race” deal. Hopefully the long-term goal of the full marathon makes that summer an easier transition – to keep up running, but not train hard or race until early fall.
So that’s my 2014 resolution. Running is a habit, so all the races I have lined up are just icing, and any PRs I want or whatever will come if they come and I will simply run happy while I train. Getting financially independent is the next step to getting myself settled on my own for good without the parental safety net, and that’s what I’m going to focus on. Saving, saving, saving.
It’s tough to let go of my desire to run Dumbo for the first time, or even just plain wanting to go to California to see all my friends that have moved to LA since college, but first things have to be first. I don’t need to be rich by the end of 2014, but I want to be in considerably better financial shape than I am now. That’s my only resolution.