Happy New Year and welcome to…oh shit, we’re 1/6 of the way into 2019.
So that ship has sailed! Which is fine, because I hate New Year’s resolutions anyway. Last year I tried something new and did a series of monthly experiments instead of year-long resolutions. While that was fine, it was also hard to build any momentum. I don’t like the focus on “new year, new me!” that tends to come with resolutions in January, but there is value in tracking goals for a longer term/over the course of the year, rather than moving on after a month.
So this year I’m trying another new thing and doing a kind of bucket list for the year (credit to Sarah at Smile and Conquer for the idea). And 19 for 2019 sounds catchy, so 19 bucket list items/goals for the year it is!
First up, money things because I am a personal finance blogger.
1. Max out Roth IRA contributions for 2019
I just managed to max out my 2018 contribution (for the first time ever!!!!!!!!) two weeks ago when I did my taxes and thus knew how much money was coming back to me in the form of refunds (hah or I owe money to the Feds this year for the first time ever,
thanks, tax scam bill) and/or the 1/3 of my side hustle paycheck that I put aside in a separate savings account for taxes (note to self: I should probably not include that savings account in my net worth since ostensibly it’s not mine until I do my taxes…).
Oh hey, I MAXED OUT MY ROTH IRA FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE!!! Now to repeat it for 2019 😅 pic.twitter.com/gU180VRPnF
— Erin | Reaching for FI (@reachingforfi) February 13, 2019
Putting away $5500 was hard so obviously $6000 is going to be even more of a challenge. I’m still trying to work through my reluctance to reduce my cash holdings a bit so I have money with which to fund my Roth IRA—contributions can be withdrawn without a penalty!! It’s obviously not ideal especially if the market is down when it happens, but it’ll do in a pinch—since my emergency fund isn’t where super anxious me would like it to be even though I’M FINE. But I think it’ll get easier to part with that $6000 over time.
In theory I’d love to max out my 2019 contributions in actual calendar year 2019 without needing to wait for tax season, but maxing it out is maxing it out, so either way it’s a win and I’ll take it. It’s gonna happen.
2. Change my title and get a raise
Remember that series of posts I did early last year while we were stuck in reorganization hell at work? Well I quit writing about that because it was too fucking depressing. Long story short, title change/internal job/bonus/any sort of appreciation/recognition at all didn’t happen. Shocker, I know.
However, I’m giving myself a softball here, which means yes, there should be news on this front very soon. Let’s just say my boss has given HR an updated job description for me, so ball’s now in their court
oh god I’m going to be waiting on this forever ahahaha slash will be fired when I decide I can’t take waiting anymore and can’t help but scream at them next time I see them.
3. Find another source of income
Having my second job has been awesome in terms of being able to afford more travel/to max out my Roth IRA (but not awesome for taxes this year. I have since adjusted my withholding 😭). Working on weekends has decidedly not been awesome for my sleep, spending time with people, or keeping on top of all the mundane things that being an adult entails.
I’m not quitting my second job anytime soon, but there’s a possibility I won’t still be working it by the end of the year. In theory if I get a raise I won’t really miss that money, but anything I can do to accelerate my incredibly lengthy FI timeline is attractive. So finding an alternative source of income (ideally one that doesn’t require as large of a time commitment as my current side hustle, even though the hourly pay has been respectable/sometimes better than my full-time job) is the goal.
4. Do two no-spend months
I did one last year and would like to see how two go—it’s good to have a spending reset every now and then. Doing one in the first half of this year is going to be interesting, though, because I’ve got quite a bit of travel in the next few months. But being out of town for a few days isn’t a reason not to do a no-spend month. I’m thinking maybe April will be good for the first one.
And on the subject of spending less:
5. Reach a 48% savings rate for the year
Last year I managed a savings rate of 42%. As of right now there’s nothing major happening that will reduce my expenses/increase my income enough to add an additional 6% to my savings rate over last year. So it’s going to take some work!
Also I have zero info on what my potential raise will be (assuming I don’t just leave here because I’m tired of the bullshit). When I get that information, I’ll revise this number upward. Same with any big life changes that might happen over this year that will significantly affect my financial situation.
6. See tulips in Amsterdam
One of my absolute favorite things about spring when I was studying abroad in Istanbul was tulip season. They’re one of my favorite flowers and I loved seeing large swaths of them all over the place.
I’m heading to Amsterdam (and Paris and Brussels, briefly) with my dad for a week next month to visit my brother, who lives there. You know where’s a good place besides Turkey to see a bunch of tulips in early spring? The Netherlands.
I’m going before peak season (both a matter of timing for my brother since he’ll be in the US in early April and because, understandably, flights got more expensive the closer to mid-April I looked because tulip season is also tulip season. So maybe I won’t actually see that many tulips while I’m in the Netherlands. But it won’t be for lack of trying. If not tulips, hopefully I’ll see some hyacinths at the very least.
7. Visit Sainte-Chapelle
As part of the trip to Amsterdam, my current plans include a day and a half in Paris because I’ve never been there. My brother hasn’t been there yet. My dad hasn’t been there. And my mother is less interested in Paris, silly her. She’d be on any future family trips to Amsterdam, so this trip is a good opportunity to get my first visit in.
I’m honestly not sure how much I’ll be able to cram into this very limited visit, but I do know that this chapel is very high on my bucket list. Because I’m an art history nerd. I studied Gothic architecture. Aside from the art history nerd bucket list particularly, have you seen any photos of the place?? omg 😍😍😍
8. Do something/go somewhere new once a month
Despite not having articulated this goal until almost the end of February, I’ve still done pretty well on this front so far. In January I didn’t go anywhere new, but I did get to spend a snow day with my partner. I’ve done extended walks around my neighborhood in the snow before, but it was nice to have company for this one for the first time!
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For February, I spent the holiday/my birthday weekend visiting my parents. Which obviously isn’t new, but during this trip my boyfriend and I hit up a few of the local breweries, only one of which I’d been to before (and that was before I was old enough to drink—it’s also a burger joint).
For March, see the above goals/bucket list items!
I love traveling, obviously, and I want a whole lot more of it in my life! But that’s infeasible right now. Good thing I can have plenty of adventures in my own backyard. Yes, I go hiking a lot, which is awesome. But I’ve been in DC for…an amount of time that scares me and makes me restless if I think about it too much and still somehow have a ton left to do on my DC bucket list. Having this as a goal will remind me to do new things around town.
9. Visit a new state
Pretty self-explanatory! One day I’ll count up how many states I’ve been to (although the number I’ve driven through vs. spent actual time in would differ and which metric do you use?; it’s a fair number, but I’ve still got quite a few to visit.
Although unless some friends move from their current locations, I’ve visited them all, which means this trip will be to somewhere I don’t have friends with handy couches I can sleep on. And that’s okay. Not all travel has to be the bare minimum of spending.
10. Visit a new national park
Also self-explanatory. This might happen, say, on a visit to a new state?, or more locally because I still haven’t been to all (any) of the battlefields around here.
11. Go camping
My first roommate and I went camping a few times before she moved out to go to law school, but I haven’t been camping since. I don’t like doing more than one night in a row because sleeping on the ground is super uncomfortable for bony people who are also ridiculously light sleepers who don’t get fantastic sleep even when in a real bed. But a night every now and then is fun (especially if it’s early in the weekend so I can catch up on sleep before a new workweek)!
Granted, my camping gear is…lacking. But I’ve camped before without a super fancy sleeping bag and survived. You don’t have to have super fancy gear to do outdoorsy things! It’ll just need to not be freezing at night. Which is why camping is not happening right now.
12. More single-tasking
When I was in elementary school, I was QUEEN of single-tasking. My parents dropped me off at a before-school program so they could go to work on time, and whenever I could get away with it, I read instead of doing whatever the hell else we were doing. I’d pick a table way at the back of the cafeteria away from everyone else and ignore the (very loud) world around me
I don’t know what happened in that cafeteria (or the gym, although I was forced to participate in dodgeball/basketball/whatever far more often when we were in the gym instead of the cafeteria) most of the time. I have vague memories of that maybe being the only time in my life when I played Guess Who (and Mancala. I loved Mancala). But I have way less vague memories of the jolt of coming out of my book with a start and all of sudden hearing all the noise around me again as I reentered the real world. It happened all of the time because I was so singularly focused on my book.
I cannot read with such single-minded concentration to this day. I can’t do much of anything with that much single-minded concentration. I do, however, know that I try and fail all the time to do or concentrate on multiple things at once.
In theory I can catch up on podcasts while cooking or cleaning or walking somewhere or driving, but the truth is that I’m never paying super close attention to them. Multi-tasking is also a time suck. I keep writing blog posts while also texting people and periodically checking in to see what’s up on Twitter. It is 100% not a surprise that it takes me for damn ever to write posts with all of that happening.
Multi-tasking is a myth and it just means things take longer and/or I’m not actually paying attention to what I’m doing. So I want to make a conscious, active effort to focus on just one thing at a time this year.
I am also queen of procrastinating. Getting out of the habit of trying to do multiple things at once will also help me get out of the habit of avoiding things I don’t want to do. With more single-tasking, I’ll just have to actually do the thing instead of doing 20 different other things as avoidance.
And maybe I’ll even start posting more consistently! But I’m also not expecting any miracles 🤷♀️
13. Go to barre three times per week
An ongoing goal I’ve had forever. I’ve been HORRIBLE with this lately.
14. Get back on learning languages
I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with learning new languages. I took five years of Spanish in high school (yes, that math does actually work out, blame the block schedule we were on), but my memories of those classes were mostly extreme stress at feeling the need to always be perfect/keep a good grade.
Shocker, it was way easier and less stressful to learn/solidify my Spanish when I was studying abroad in Chile and living with a host family. I was never 100% comfortable with speaking (yes, I know, a lot of it is caring too much about what others think), but reading was no problem at all, and for the most part I could understand conversations, even if my side was a bit more halting.
On the other hand, the one semester I took of Turkish while studying abroad in Istanbul was the most fun I ever had in a language class. Sure, it took us two months to finally string together a full sentence in Turkish (to be fair, this is complicated by the fact that Turkish doesn’t have a verb for “to be”)—it’s not like this was the most rigorous language class I’ve ever taken. But it was fun and the very rudimentary Turkish I learned is something I still remember well. It was drilled into my head, but not in a way where I was terrified to make mistakes, which made things easier to remember.
You know what’s low-stakes? Duolingo.
Sure, it’s not going to make me fluent, but it’s an extremely low-stakes way to learn the basics of a new language and keep up some of my existing language skills. In preparation for my trip next month, I’m starting to learn French, which is something I’ve wanted to do for many, many years. I also remember how much I love Turkish, and I’m starting to relearn/continue learning it (my very limited skills are…rusty so many years later). I’ll probably pick Spanish back up at some point too (or get back to reading Harry Potter in Spanish).
Granted, I have an extremely difficult time switching back and forth between languages. So it’s been tough to do both French and Turkish lessons back-to-back.
I was mostly fluent in Spanish when I studied abroad in Turkey. I worked SO HARD to learn basic Turkish that even today I think any conversation I had in Spanish would end up with me saying “evet” or “hayır” instead of “sí” or “no” and other basics 😬
— Erin | Reaching for FI (@reachingforfi) February 7, 2019
Languages are fun, and I don’t want this to be something I only focus on this year.
15. Declutter my shit
This is another one that’s been ongoing. I’ve been decluttering lightly here and there, but it’s been half-heartedly. It’s looking likely that later this year I’ll be moving, and I sincerely don’t want to have to move all my excessive amounts of stuff in the process. So here’s to actually paring down before that happens!
A fantastic place to start is my closet. During/right after college I amassed quite a few items of professional clothing that—thankfully—I don’t have to wear ever. Business casual for the win! Sure, I’m not getting rid of all of my business clothes. But if I—god forbid—somehow find myself in a job that’s not always business casual, I doubt I’d want to wear most of my current professional wardrobe. So getting rid of the clothes that aren’t me anymore/that I wouldn’t want to wear now if I had to is the easiest place to start making a serious dent in the amount of stuff I own.
I’ve also started doing the thing where I turn all my hangers backwards. When I wear something, I turn the hanger back to its normal position, which gives me a clear visual of the things I wear (at the moment sweaters and only sweaters. Is it spring yet?) and the things I don’t (all of my professional shirts for the last…like four years).
16. Average a book a week
I finished 49 books last year (yes, rereads count!), so 52 isn’t that much of a stretch. This is more of a reminder to myself to read when I have time for it since sometimes I’ll find myself mindlessly scrolling on my phone or otherwise wasting time when I could be finishing a book instead. I’m at 10 finished this year so far, so here’s to keeping up the momentum.
17. Go through A Simple Year
Last year I signed up for the year-long course A Simple Year. And then I failed to do many of the modules at all. Because I got too busy to devote the time, which is, yes, the entire damn point.
I do want to simplify and slow down this year. I also want to actually do the course I paid for. So I’ll be working my way through that this year.
18. Add some more recipes to my usual rotation
I’ve been in a rut lately. A lot of that has been that I just haven’t done much cooking, thanks to not having the time or not being around. But some of it is plain old lack of inspiration. I love trying new recipes but sometimes the thought of having to expend that much effort is too much. So I need to add some more staples into my rotation that I can reach for when I need to mix things up but don’t want to or can’t commit to trying something new.
19. Try something totally new/out of the ordinary for me
I did a yoga challenge last year and it…was not for me. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth doing. In that vein, I want to do something new this year, too. Maybe it’ll be something absolutely wild like signing up for a 5k even though running is actually worse than yoga (that’s saying a lot). TBD on what I decide!
So there you have it: 19 goals for 2019. Because you don’t actually need to wait for a major calendar milestone to decide to do something new. Sometimes you can wait until two months after everyone else has decided what changes they’re making for the new year 😉